Nim game in Haskell implementing optimal strategy

I was inspired by Stas Kurlin's Nim game to write my own. I'm new to Haskell, and quite unfamiliar with monads, do notation, and -- in general -- functional design patterns.

In the game of nim, two players begin with a number of sized piles, e.g. piles of stones. Each player moves by taking a (non-zero) number of stones from one pile. The winning player is the one who takes the last stone (i.e. the one who makes every pile size identically zero).

In my game, a NimPosition is a Map from Word64s to Word64s, where the keys are distinct pile sizes, and the values are the number of piles with that size.

The user interacts with the game by entering space-separated pile sizes, which are then parsed into a list of Word64s, and these Word64s are converted to a NimPosition using the fromList function.

The goal of this Map implementation is to ensure that each NimPosition has a unique representation without making the user have to think too hard about how to enter a position during play. However, I'm not too Data.Map is necessary; it makes more sense to me now to have a NimPosition be a list of Word64s, and ensure that each NimPosition is unique by having fromList be a sort function.

The function nextMove (which I realize now is not a terribly descriptive name) calculates the optimal move to make from a given NimPosition. In the case that the bitwise-xor (aka nim-sum) of all the pile sizes isn't zero, then the optimal play is the (not necessarily unique) move that makes the nim-sum zero. If the nim-sum is already zero, there is no way to make it zero, so there is no optimal move.

(In this case nextMove reduces the size of the largest pile by one; I don't have any good reason why, except that it probably makes it inconvenient for the human opponent, who must calculate the nim-sum to play optimally, but probably can't calculate the bitwise-xor or a list of large integers as fast as she could a list of smaller integers.)

(See this)

Like I said, I'm unfamiliar with Haskell and design patterns in general. But this is my first Haskell program of any length, but I guess ya gotta start somewhere.

GitHub

import qualified Data.Bits as Bit
import qualified Data.Map  as Map
import Data.Word       (Word64)
import Data.List
import Data.Char

data NimPosition = NimPosition (Map.Map Word64 Word64)
deriving (Eq)
-- A NimPosition is constructed from a map from Word64 to Word64. The
-- keys correspond to the distinct pile sizes, and the values
-- correspond to the number of piles with that size.

data Player = Human
| Computer

data GameState = Game
{ player   :: Player
, position :: NimPosition }

data Bit = Bit Bool
deriving (Eq, Ord)

data Binary = Binary [Bit]
deriving (Eq, Ord)

insertWithCounts :: Word64
-> Map.Map Word64 Word64
-> Map.Map Word64 Word64
-- Insert an Word64 into a map as a key. If that Word64 is already present
-- in the map as a key, then increase the value by 1. If the Word64 is
-- not already present, give it the default value of 1.
insertWithCounts pileSize oldMap =
Map.insertWith (\_ y -> y + 1) pileSize 1 oldMap

fromList :: [Word64] -> NimPosition
-- Construct a NimPosition from a list of Word64, where each Word64 is a
-- pile.
fromList xs = NimPosition (foldr insertWithCounts Map.empty xs)

toList :: NimPosition -> [Word64]
-- Convert a NimPosition into a list of Word64, where each Word64 in the list
-- corresponds to a pile.
toList (NimPosition position) =
let pileSizes = Map.keys  position
pileQtys  = Map.elems position
pileLists = zipWith replicate (map fromIntegral pileQtys) pileSizes
in foldr1 (++) pileLists

instance Show NimPosition where
show = unwords . map show . toList

instance Show GameState where
show (Game Human position) = "Computer's play....=> " ++ show position ++ "\n"
show (Game Computer position) = ""

toBit 0 = Bit False
toBit _ = Bit True

instance Show Bit where
show (Bit False) = "0"
show (Bit True ) = "1"

toBitList :: Integral a => a -> [Bit]
toBitList 0 = []
toBitList n = let (q, r) = n divMod 2
in (toBit r) : toBitList q

toBinary :: Integral a => a -> Binary
toBinary n = (Binary . toBitList) n

instance Show Binary where
show (Binary bitList) = concat $(map show) . reverse$ bitList

positionSum :: NimPosition -> Word64
-- Compute the bitwise xor of the pile sizes.
positionSum position = foldr1 (Bit.xor) (toList position)

winning :: NimPosition -> Bool
-- According to Bouton's theorem, a position in nim is winning if the
-- bitwise exclusive or of the pile sizes is exactly zero.
winning position = (positionSum position == 0)

losing :: NimPosition -> Bool
losing position = (sum . toList) position == 1

terminal :: NimPosition -> Bool
terminal position = (sum . toList) position == 0

findNumWithLeadingBit :: [Word64] -> Maybe Word64
| maxBinaryLengthIsUnique = lookup maxBinaryLength lengthValueAlist
| otherwise               = Nothing
where binaryExpansions        = map (show . toBinary) xs
binaryLengths           = map length binaryExpansions
lengthValueAlist        = zip binaryLengths xs
maxBinaryLength         = maximum binaryLengths
numsWithMaxBinaryLength = filter (== maxBinaryLength) binaryLengths
maxBinaryLengthIsUnique = length numsWithMaxBinaryLength == 1

isValidMove :: NimPosition -> NimPosition -> Bool
isValidMove prevPosition nextPosition =
let prevPiles              = toList prevPosition
nextPiles              = toList nextPosition
pilesNotInPrevPosition = nextPiles \\ prevPiles
pilesNotInNextPosition = prevPiles \\ nextPiles
in case (pilesNotInNextPosition, pilesNotInPrevPosition) of
(originalSize:[],resultantSize:[]) | resultantSize < originalSize -> True
| otherwise                    -> False
_ -> False

nextMove :: NimPosition -> NimPosition
nextMove prevPosition =
if winning prevPosition then
let prevList = (reverse . toList) prevPosition
nextList = (head prevList - 1) : (tail prevList)
in fromList nextList
else
let prevList = toList prevPosition
Just bigPile -> fromList (newPile:otherPiles)
where otherPiles = delete bigPile prevList
newPile    = foldr1 (Bit.xor) otherPiles

where remainingPiles   = zipWith delete prevList (repeat prevList)
remainingNimSums = map (foldr1 Bit.xor) remainingPiles
candidateLists   = zipWith (:) remainingNimSums remainingPiles
candidateMoves   = map fromList candidateLists
possibleMoves    = filter (isValidMove prevPosition) candidateMoves

(Nothing, _)              -> []

readIntFromString :: String -> (Maybe Word64, String)
let (_, newString)         = span (isSpace) string
(intString, remainder) = span (isNumber) newString
numberRead             = case null intString of
True  -> Nothing

getIntList :: IO [Word64]
getIntList = do
line <- getLine
True  -> do
putStrLn "Parse error: can't read list of integers"
getIntList

getNimPosition :: IO NimPosition
getNimPosition = do
intList <- getIntList
return $fromList intList getValidNimPosition :: NimPosition -> IO NimPosition getValidNimPosition oldPosition = do newPosition <- getNimPosition case isValidMove oldPosition newPosition of False -> do putStrLn "Player error: not a valid position" getValidNimPosition oldPosition True -> return newPosition takeTurns :: Maybe GameState -> IO (Maybe GameState) takeTurns Nothing = do putStrLn "Game Over!"; return Nothing takeTurns (Just currentState) = let currentPosition = position currentState in do (putStr . show) currentState case (losing currentPosition) || (terminal currentPosition) of True -> takeTurns Nothing _ -> case player currentState of Computer -> let computersNextMove = nextMove$ position currentState
nextState = currentState { player   = Human,
position = computersNextMove}
in takeTurns $Just nextState Human -> do playersNextMove <- getValidNimPosition$ position currentState
let nextState = currentState { player   = Computer
, position = playersNextMove} in do
takeTurns $Just nextState data YesNo = Yes | No getYesOrNo :: IO (YesNo) getYesOrNo = do input <- getLine case input of "yes" -> return Yes "y" -> return Yes "no" -> return No "n" -> return No _ -> do putStr "Please enter 'yes' or 'no': "; getYesOrNo introduceGame :: IO () introduceGame = putStrLn "Welcome to Nim! To get started, enter your initial position, e.g. '1 3 5'" main = do introduceGame putStr "Initial position => " startingPosition <- getNimPosition let initialGameState = Just Game { player = Computer , position = startingPosition } in takeTurns initialGameState putStr "Would you like to continue? (y/n): " shouldContinue <- getYesOrNo case shouldContinue of Yes -> main No -> do putStrLn "Goodbye!"; return ()  • This won't build due to a dependency on Data.List.Util, which I think must be a module the OP wrote. To build, remove that import and change the Show instance for NimPosition, I believe unwords . map show . toList is equivalent. Jan 28, 2015 at 0:34 • @bisserlis Not only equivalent, but simpler too. I've edited the code to remove the dependency following your suggestion. (The library Data.List.Utils is in fact provided by MissingH.) Jan 28, 2015 at 2:45 1 Answer Some ideas: • For Bit and Binary use newtype rather than data to get rid of data's run-time overhead. • Instead of custom Bits you could use the Data.Bits instance of Integer. This would simplify or remove a lot related code. • As you noted, for NimPosition you could either use just a list, or even a multi-set. • For findNumWithLeadingBit function maximumBy seems to be useful. Or perhaps even more simplified, something like (untested) where withLengths = map (id &&& (length . show . toBinary)) xs maxBinaryLength = maximum . map snd$ withLengths
numsWithMaxBinaryLength = filter ((== maxBinaryLength) . snd) withLengths
maxBinaryLengthIsUnique = length numsWithMaxBinaryLength == 1

• Rather than if it's often more readable to use guards, for example:

nextMove prevPosition | winning prevPosition = ...
| otherwise = ...

• Code that tries various options, to eventually find one that matches some criteria, can be often nicely expressed using the [] or Maybe monad using MonadPlus functions. Package monadplus has more useful functions, for example mfromList.
• It's strongly recommended to include types for all top-level functions.

Otherwise nice program! I also like that you meaningfully named variables, this really helps reading the code.

• @peter, so grateful for your comments. I did this project this a year and a half ago when I was new to Haskell, and I would have done so many things differently (e.g., including a cabal file!). I'll definitely take your suggestion on MonadPlus. Jul 19, 2016 at 3:20