The post Beautiful differentiation showed some lovely code that makes it easy to compute not just the values of user-written functions, but also all of its derivatives (infinitely many). This elegant technique is limited, however, to functions over a scalar (one-dimensional) domain. Next, we explored what it means to transcend that limitation, asking and answering the question What is a derivative, really? The answer to that question is that derivative values are linear maps saying how small input changes result in output changes. This answer allows us to unify several different notions of derivatives and their corresponding chain rules into a single simple and powerful form.
This third post combines the ideas from the two previous posts, to easily compute infinitely many derivatives of functions over arbitrary-dimensional domains.
The code shown here is part of a new Haskell library, which you can download and play with or peruse on the web.
The general setting: vector spaces
Linear maps (transformations) lie at the heart of the generalized idea of derivative described earlier. Talking about linearity requires a few simple operations, which are encapsulated in the the abstract interface known from math as a vector space.
A vector space
v has an associated type
s of scalar values (a field) and a set of operations.
class VectorSpace v s | v -> s where zeroV :: v -- the zero vector (*^) :: s -> v -> v -- scale a vector (^+^) :: v -> v -> v -- add vectors negateV :: v -> v -- additive inverse
In many cases, we’ll want to add inner (dot) products as well, to form an inner product space:
class VectorSpace v s => InnerSpace v s | v -> s where (<.>) :: v -> v -> s
Several other useful operations can be defined in terms of these five methods.
For instance, vector subtraction and linear interpolation for vector spaces, and magnitude and normalization (rescaling to unit length) for inner product spaces.
The vector-space library defines instances for
Complex, as well as pairs, triples, and quadruples of vectors, and functions with vector ranges.
(By “vector” here, I mean any instance of
It’s pretty easy to define new instances of your own. For instance, here is the library’s definition of functions as vector spaces, using the same techniques as before:
Linear transformations could perhaps be defined as an abstract data type, with primitives and a composition operator. I don’t know how to provide enough primitives for all possibly types of interest. I also played with linear maps as a type family, indexed on the domain or range type, but it didn’t quite work out for me. For now, I’ll simply represent a linear map as a function, define a type synonym as reminder of intention:
type a :-* b = a -> b -- linear map
This definition makes some things quite convenient.
(.), implements linear map composition.
VectorSpace instance (above) gives the customary meaning for linear maps as vector spaces.
(->), this new
(:-*) operator is right-associative, so
a :-* b :-* c means
a :-* (b :-* c).
A derivative tower contains a value and all derivatives of a function at a point. Previously, I’d suggested the following type for derivative towers.
data a :> b = D b (a :> (a :-* b)) -- old definition
The values in one of these towers have types
a :-> b,
a :-> a :-> b, ….
So, for instance, a second derivative value is a linear map from
a to linear maps from
a to b.
(Uncurrying a second derivative yields a bilinear map.)
Since making this suggestion, I’ve gotten simpler code using the following variation, which I’ll use instead:
data a :> b = D b (a :-* (a :> b))
Now a tower value is a regular value, plus a linear map that yields a tower for the derivative.
We can also write this second version more simply, without the linearity reminder:
data a :> b = D b (a :~> b)
a :~> b is the type of infinitely differentiable functions, represented as a function that produces a derivative tower:
type a :~> b = a -> (a :> b)
As in Beautiful differentiation, constant functions have all derivatives equal to zero:
dConst :: VectorSpace b s => b -> a:>b dConst b = b `D` const dZero dZero :: VectorSpace b s => a:>b dZero = dConst zeroV
Note the use of the standard Haskell function
const, which makes constant functions (always returning the same value).
Also, the use of the zero vector required me to use a
VectorSpace constraint in the type signature.
(I could have used
Num instead, but
Num requires more methods and so is less general than
The differentiable identity function plays a very important role. Its towers are sometimes called “the derivation variable” or similar, but it’s a not really a variable. The definition is quite terse:
dId :: VectorSpace u s => u :~> u dId u = D u (\ du -> dConst du)
What’s going on here?
The differentiable identity function,
dId, takes an argument
u and yields a tower.
The regular value (the 0th derivative) is simply the argument
u, as one would expect from an identity function.
The derivative (a linear map) turns a tiny input offset,
du, to a resulting output offset, which is also
du (also as expected from an identity function).
The higher derivatives are all zero, so our first derivative tower is
Returning, for a few moments, to thinking of derivatives as numbers, let’s consider about the function
f = \ x -> m * x + b for some values
We’d usually say that the derivative of
f is equal to
m everywhere, and indeed
f can be interpreted as a line with (constant) slope
m and y-intercept
In the language of linear algebra, the function
f is affine in general, and is (more specifically) linear only when
b == 0.
In the generalized view of derivatives as linear maps, we say instead that the derivative is
\ x -> m * x.
The derivative everywhere is almost the same as
If we take
b == 0 (so that
f is linear and not just affine), then the derivative of
f is exactly
Consequently, its higher derivatives are all zero.
In the generalized view of derivatives as linear maps, this relationship always holds.
The derivative of a linear function
We can encapsulate this general property as a utility function:
linearD :: VectorSpace v s => (u :-* v) -> (u :~> v) linearD f u = D (f u) (\ du -> dConst (f du))
dConst here sets up all of the higher derivatives to be zero.
This definition can also be written more succinctly:
linearD f u = D (f u) (dConst . f)
You may have noticed a similarity between this discussion of linear functions and the identity function above.
This similarity is more than coincidental, because the identity function is linear.
With this insight, we can write a more compact definition for
dId, replacing the one above:
dId = linearD id
As other examples of linear functions, here are differentiable versions of the functions
snd, which extract element from a pair.
Numeric operations can be specified much as they were previously. First, those definition again (with variable names changed),
instance Num b => Num (Dif b) where fromInteger = dConst . fromInteger D u0 u' + D v0 v' = D (u0 + v0) (u' + v') D u0 u' - D v0 v' = D (u0 - v0) (u' - v') u@(D u0 u') * v@(D v0 v') = D (u0 * v0) (u' * v + u * v')
Now the new definition:
instance (Num b, VectorSpace b b) => Num (a:>b) where fromInteger = dConst . fromInteger D u0 u' + D v0 v' = D (u0 + v0) (u' + v') D u0 u' - D v0 v' = D (u0 - v0) (u' - v') u@(D u0 u') * v@(D v0 v') = D (u0 * v0) (\ da -> (u * v' da) + (u' da * v))
The main change shows up in multiplication.
It is no longer meaningful to write something like
u' * v, because
u' :: b :-* (a :> b), while
v :: a :> b.
v' gets applied to the small change in input before multiplying by
u' gets applied to the small change in input before multiplying by
The same sort of change has happened silently in the sum and difference cases, but are hidden by the numeric overloadings provided for functions. Written more explicitly:
D u0 u' + D v0 v' = D (u0 + v0) (\ da -> u' da + v' da)
By the way, a bit of magic can also hide the “
\ da -> ...” in the definition of multiplication:
u@(D u0 u') * v@(D v0 v') = D (u0 * v0) ((u *) . v' + (* v) . u')
The derivative part can be deciphered as follows: transform (the input change) by
v' and then pre-multiply by
u; transform (the input change) by
u' and then post-multiply by
v; and add the result.
If this sort of wizardry isn’t your game, forget about it and use the more explicit form.
Composition — the chain rule
Here’s the chain rule we used earlier.
(>-<) :: (Num a) => (a -> a) -> (Dif a -> Dif a) -> (Dif a -> Dif a) f >-< f' = \ u@(D u0 u') -> D (f u0) (f' u * u')
The new one differs just slightly:
(>-<) :: VectorSpace u s => (u -> u) -> ((a :> u) -> (a :> s)) -> (a :> u) -> (a :> u) f >-< f' = \ u@(D u0 u') -> D (f u0) (\ da -> f' u *^ u' da)
Or we can hide the
da, as with multiplication:
f >-< f' = \ u@(D u0 u') -> D (f u0) ((f' u *^) . u')
With this change, all of the method definitions in Beautiful differentiation work as before, with only the For instance,
instance (Fractional b, VectorSpace b b) => Fractional (a:>b) where fromRational = dConst . fromRational recip = recip >-< recip sqr
See the library for details.
The chain rule pure and simple
(>-<) operator above is specialized form of the chain rule that is convenient for automatic differentiation.
In its simplest and most general form, the chain rule says
deriv (f . g) x = deriv f (g x) . deriv g x
The composition on the right hand side is on linear maps (derivatives). You may be used to seeing the chain rule in one or more of its specialized forms, using some form of product (scalar/scalar, scalar/vector, vector/vector dot, matrix/vector) instead of composition. Those forms all mean the same as this general case, but are defined on various representations of linear maps, instead of linear maps themselves.
The chain rule above constructs only the first derivatives.
Instead, we’ll construct all of the derivatives by using all of the derivatives of
(@.) :: (b :~> c) -> (a :~> b) -> (a :~> c) (f @. g) a0 = D c0 (c' @. b') wfere D b0 b' = g a0 D c0 c' = f b0
In this post, we’ve combined derivative towers with generalized derivatives (based on linear maps), for constructing infinitely many derivatives of functions over multi-dimensional (or scalar) domains. The inner workings are subtler than the previous code, but almost as simple to express and just as easy to use.
If you’re interested in learning more about generalized derivatives, I recommend the book Calculus on Manifolds.
Future posts will include:
- A look at an efficiency issue and consider some solutions.
- Elegant executable specifications of smooth surfaces, using derivatives for the surface normals used in shading.