Published 7th of December, 2013, by Nikos Baxevanis. Tagged as f#, autofixture.

Semantic Equality Comparison in F#

This post demonstrates a way to perform semantic equality for complex object graphs taking advantage of SemanticComparer including Structural Types, Entities, Value Objects, as well as Primitive Types.

Scenario

The equality algorithm for ComplexType should use the default equality for record, number, text, version and value, while it should use custom equality for os and entity:

type ComplexType(entity, value, record, number, text, version, os) =
    member this.Entity  = entity
    member this.Value   = value
    member this.Record  = record
    member this.Number  = number
    member this.Text    = text
    member this.Version = version
    member this.OS      = os

Context

The record is a simple aggregate of named values (an F# Record type) with an explicit implementation of Equals and no auto-generated comparisons:

[<CustomEquality; NoComparison>]
type StructuralType =
    { Value: int;
      Other: string }

    override this.Equals(y) =
        match y with
        | :? StructuralType as other -> (this.Value = other.Value)
        | _ -> false

    override x.GetHashCode() = hash x.Value

The value follows value semantics and has no conceptual identity:

type ValueObject(x: int, y: int) =
    member this.X = x
    member this.Y = y

    override this.Equals(other) =
        match other with
        | :? ValueObject as other ->
            this.X = other.X &&
            this.Y = other.Y
        | _  -> Object.Equals(this, other)

    override this.GetHashCode() =
        hash this.X ^^^
        hash this.Y

The entity type has a conceptual identity as the following (rather incomplete) implementation demonstrates:

type Entity(name: string) =
    member this.Name = name
    member this.Id   = Guid.NewGuid()

    override this.Equals(other) =
        match other with
        | :? Entity as other -> this.Id = other.Id
        | _  -> Object.Equals(this, other)

    override this.GetHashCode() = hash this.Id

The remaining types are defined in BCL: version overrides its Equals method using value semantics while os represents instances of the OperatingSystem type which uses its default reference equality.

Sample test data

All the following tests are parameterized with xUnit.net’s [<PropertyData>] attribute which means that the test data is coming from a property.

The property below yields 3 tests cases:

let RecursiveComparisonTestCases : seq<obj[]> =
    seq {
            yield
                [|
                    ComplexType(
                        Entity("abc"),
                        ValueObject(1, 2),
                        { Value = 1;
                          Other = "foo" },
                        1,
                        "Anonymous Text",
                        Version(4, 0, 0),
                        OperatingSystem(
                            PlatformID.Unix,
                            Version(3, 9, 8)))

                    ComplexType(
                        Entity("abc"),
                        ValueObject(1, 2),
                        { Value = 1;
                          Other = "bar" },     // Difference
                        1,
                        "Anonymous Text",
                        Version(4, 0, 0),
                        OperatingSystem(
                            PlatformID.Xbox,   // Difference
                            Version(3, 9, 8)))

                    true // Expected result
                |]

            yield
                [|
                    ComplexType(
                        Entity("abc"),
                        ValueObject(1, 2),
                        { Value = 2;
                          Other = "foo" },
                        1,
                        "123",
                        Version(4, 0, 0),
                        OperatingSystem(
                            PlatformID.Unix,
                            Version(3, 9, 8)))

                    ComplexType(
                        Entity("ABC"),         // Difference
                        ValueObject(1, 2),
                        { Value = 2;
                          Other = "foo" },
                        1,
                        "123",
                        Version(4, 0, 0),
                        OperatingSystem(
                            PlatformID.Xbox,   // Difference
                            Version(3, 9, 8)))

                    true // Expected result
                |]

            yield
                [|
                    ComplexType(
                        Entity("abc"),
                        ValueObject(1, 2),
                        { Value = 3;
                          Other = "foo" },
                        1,
                        "Anonymous Text",
                        Version(4, 0, 0),
                        OperatingSystem(
                            PlatformID.Unix,
                            Version(3, 9, 8)))

                    ComplexType(
                        Entity("abc"),
                        ValueObject(1, 2),
                        { Value = 4;           // Difference
                          Other = "foo" },
                        1,
                        "Anonymous Text",
                        Version(4, 0, 0),
                        OperatingSystem(
                            PlatformID.Xbox,   // Difference
                            Version(0, 0, 0))) // Difference

                    false // Expected result
                |] }

Approach

Semantic equality can be modeled with SemanticComparer, as the following parameterized xUnit.net test demonstrates:

[<Theory; PropertyData("RecursiveComparisonTestCases")>]
let ``Equals returns correct result for ComplexType`` value other expected =

    // Fixture setup
    let valueObjectComparer() = {
        new IMemberComparer with
            member this.IsSatisfiedBy(request: PropertyInfo) = true
            member this.IsSatisfiedBy(request: FieldInfo) = true
            member this.GetHashCode(obj) = hash obj
            member this.Equals(x, y) = x.Equals(y) }

    let entityComparer() = {
        new IMemberComparer with
            member this.IsSatisfiedBy(request: PropertyInfo) =
                request.PropertyType = typedefof<Entity>
            member this.IsSatisfiedBy(request: FieldInfo) =
                request.FieldType = typedefof<Entity>
            member this.GetHashCode(obj) = hash obj
            member this.Equals(x, y) =
                StringComparer.OrdinalIgnoreCase.Equals(
                    (x :?> Entity).Name,
                    (y :?> Entity).Name) }

    let osComparer() = {
        new IMemberComparer with
            member this.IsSatisfiedBy(request: PropertyInfo) =
                request.PropertyType = typedefof<OperatingSystem>
            member this.IsSatisfiedBy(request: FieldInfo) =
                request.FieldType = typedefof<OperatingSystem>
            member this.GetHashCode(obj) = hash obj
            member this.Equals(x, y) =
                (x :?> OperatingSystem).Version.Equals(
                 (y :?> OperatingSystem).Version) }

    let sut =
        SemanticComparer<ComplexType>(
            valueObjectComparer(),
            entityComparer(),
            osComparer())

    // Exercise system
    let actual = sut.Equals(value, other)

    // Verify outcome
    Assert.Equal(expected, actual)

    // Teardown

How it works

Packing into a test-specific Equality Assertion

The described behavior can be also packed into a Custom Assertion.

The idiomatic way of turning a Custom Assertion into a test-specific override of an object’s equality method is called Resemblance.

A Resemblance can be emitted dynamically as the following test demonstrates:

[<Theory; PropertyData("RecursiveComparisonTestCases")>]
let ``Likeness returns correct result for ComplexType`` value other expected =

    // (Same setup code as above.)

    let likeness =
        Likeness<ComplexType>(
            value,
            SemanticComparer<ComplexType>(
                valueObjectComparer(),
                entityComparer(),
                osComparer()))

    let sut = likeness.ToResemblance()

    // Exercise system
    let actual = sut.Equals(other)

    // Verify outcome
    Assert.Equal(expected, actual)

    // Teardown

Running the tests

The tests require SemanticComparison and xUnit.net data theories. Both can be installed through NuGet:

PM> Install-Package SemanticComparison
PM> Install-Package Xunit.Extensions

For added convinience all the above code is also stored in a Gist.


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