// thinkbeforecoding

Monoidal Event Sourcing Examples

2014-04-27T00:16:49 / jeremie chassaing

Last time we tried to imagine how we could change usual event sourcing definition$ to get a monoidal approach.


Here are some examples to make it work in real life.

Monoids properties

We'll try to do it properly, and test that the proposed solutions are proper monoids.


Let's recap what defines a monoid:

  • closure of operation
  • associativity
  • neutral element

How to test it

the closure of operation is given by the signature of the operation. In F# it should have a signature like 'a -> 'a –> 'a which represents a function that takes to arguments of type 'a and return a result of the same type 'a.


For associativity, we'll use the following test function:

let isAssociative (*) x y z =
   ((x * y) * z) = (x * (y * z))

It take a function that will be called '' and three values x y z. It will then test the associativity of '' using FsCheck, a F# port of QuickCheck.


FsCheck test the given property for a wide range of values. We'll just have to provide the operator, and FsCheck will check it the associativity holds for a lot of values.


For the neutral element, will use the following test function:

let isNeutralElement (*) neutral x =
    x * neutral = neutral * x


Here we'll have to provide the the operator - called '*' inside the function - and the neutral element.

Trivial cases

There are some obvious trivial cases.


Let's try to follow the number of occurrences of a specific event in state. The number of time a user did



The map function is simply:

let map = function
    | TheUserDidSomething -> 1
    | _ -> 0


The combine operation is then really simple:

let combine acc v = acc + v

and the neutral element is obviously 0.


No need to check it with FsCheck, (N, +, 0) is a monoid..


Another a bit less obvious is when an event sets a value while others don't.


For instance, let's keep track of the last user address when a user moves.


For combination, we'll use the 'right' function, which always takes it's rightmost argument:

let right x y = y


The adress should, of course, not change on other events, and for that, we'll use an option:

let map' = function
    | UserMoved (user, newAddress) -> Some newAddress
    | _ -> None


The right function can then be tweaked to take the right argument only when it has a value:

let right' x y =
    match x,y with
    | x, None -> x
    | _, y -> y

right' has a signature of 'a option -> 'a option -> 'a option, so it's closed on operation.


It's associative since, whatever x y z, (x right' y right' z) return the last defined term, however composed.


None is the neutral element. Added to the left, it keeps what's on the right, added to the right, it keeps what's on the left.


We can check it with FsCheck:

Check.Quick (isNeutralElement right' None)
Check.Quick (isAssociative right')

A less trivial case

But what about mixing both ? Some events change the value by increments, while some other set a specific value ? Like a stopwatch that increments with a button to reset it.


Can we model this kind of thing as a monoid ?


We have an increment or a reset value, let's model it as a discriminated union:

type ChangeReset<'T> =
    | Change of 'T
    | Reset of 'T



A map function, that map events to state change, would be something like:

let map'' = function
    | TimePassed duration -> Change duration
    | ButtonPushed -> Reset 0.
    | _ -> Change 0.


The first two cases are a direct mapping, for other events, we use the Change 0. values that actually use the neutral element of the underlying monoid. Adding 0 will not change the value.


We have here an underlying monoid, here, talking about duration, we use numbers, with addition and 0.


But imagine we want to add items to a list, but sometime, reset the list to a specific one like the empty list.


we can define a high order combine operation like this:

let combine' (*) x y =
    match x,y with
    | Change xi, Change yi -> Change (xi * yi)
    | Reset xv, Change yi -> Reset (xv * yi)
    | _ , Reset yv -> Reset yv


It combines to changes as a new change using the underlying monoid operation - called '*' here. It combines changes as a change.


The second line states, that a value (Reset) combined with a change will apply the change to the value.


But the third line says that when a Reset value is on the right of anything, it overrides what's on it's left.

This operation is by it's signature closed on the ChangeReset<'t> type.


It's associative, because while combining changes, it has the associativity of the underlying monoid, and when combining Reset values it has the associativity of the right operation.


The neutral element is a change with the value of the neutral element of the underlying monoid.


We can verify it with FsCheck:

Check.Quick (isNeutralElement (combine' (+)) (Change 0))
Check.Quick (isAssociative (combine' (+)))

General structure

I had some remarks that we needed it to be a group and not only a monoid. The right' and combine function clearly don't define a group because elements don't have a inverse/opposite.


What would be the opposite of Reset 5 ? It set the value 5 whatever is on its left.


The idea is to take the set of state values S.


Then take the set of changes from states in S to other states in S that are represented by the events.


Make the union of it. SC = S U C. SC will contain more that valid aggregate states. It will also contain things that are not state, like a value that indicate that the state did not change.


But we will ensure the following things: the function that convert to changes will return items of C:

map: Event -> C 


The combine operation will be closed on SC, so it can accept States from S and change from C, and it will be closed on SC: combine:

SC -> SC -> SC


But it will also ensure that when a state is given on the left, it will also return a state:

combine:  S -> SC -> S


The right' operation ensure this. The state need a value at its start, you can add as many None on the right, it'll still have it's value, and any new value will return this value.


For the ChangeReset type, the State is represented by the Reset values -that are actual values- it's S, while changes are represented by the Change values that define C.


As long as a Reset value is given at the outmost left, the result will be a Reset value that is part of S.

With this, we don't need a group, but we can do with something that is only slightly more restraint than a monoid, only to keep the semantic of state.

But we need more that a single value !

Of course aggregate state is usually composed of more than a single value.


Let's start small and consider a pair.

type State<'a,'b> = 'a * 'b


If 'a and 'b are monoids we can easily combine them :

let combine'' (+) (*) (xa,xb) (ya,yb) = (xa + ya, xb * yb)

where + is the operation on 'a and * the operation on 'b.


The neutral element is simply

let neutral neutrala neutralb = (neutrala, neutralb)

You can easily check that combine is closed on operation, associative, and that neutral is the neutral element.


recursively, you can build a triple as a pair of a pair with a single element (('a,'b), 'c), then a quadruple and any tuple.


Since a structure - a record - is just a tuple with names, any struct with monoidal members is also a monoid.


And since in Event Sourcing, all the tricky decisions are done before emitting an event, applying the event should just be setting values, incrementing / decrementing values, adding / removing items to sets or lists, all those operation are monoidal, hence almost all aggregates should be convertible to monoidal Event Sourcing.


Of course it doesn't mean you should do Event Sourcing this way, but it was rather funny to explore this !


Have fun !