Something Cool (Pt. 2)

In an earlier post I wrote about a way to implement cons, car and cdr (also known as pair, first, and second) using only function definitions and if statements in javascript. That was pretty mindblowing for me, but it turns out there is an a way to do without even using branching logic.

function pair(x, y) {
return function(s) {
return s(x, y);

The pair function take to arguments X and Y, and returns another function which takes a function argument S. It is essentially a promise to apply S to X and Y.

first and second
function first(p) {
return p(function(x, y) { return x; });
function second(p) {
return p(function(x, y) { return y; });

Implementing first and second becomes pretty straightforward; it’s just a matter of taking the output from a call to pair and applying it to a function taking two arguments X and Y and returns either X (first) or Y (second).

The CoffeeScript implementation is incredibly terse and elegant, reading almost like mathematical notation.

The CoffeeScript version
pair = (x, y) -> (s) -> s x, y
first = (p) -> p (x, y) -> x
second = (p) -> p (x, y) -> y