# ~/Blog

## Brandon Rozek PhD Student @ RPI studying Automated Reasoning in AI and Linux Enthusiast.

# Fold Not Only Reduces

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One misconception when first learning about fold is that it takes a list of elements of a certain type (`List[T]`) and “reduces” it to a single item of type `T`.

This misconception is aided by one of the most common fold examples: summing a list.

Scala Example:

``````List(1, 2, 3, 4, 5).foldLeft(0)((c, n) => c + n)
// Returns 15
``````

``````foldl (+) 0 [1,2,3,4,5]
-- Returns 15
``````

However, let us look more closely at the type signature of `foldLeft` on a list of type `X`.

``````(B -> X -> B) -> B -> [X] -> B
``````

Scala:

``````(id: B)(op: (B, X) => B): B
``````

There are a few things we can note here:

• The return type is not influenced by the list type `X` at all.
• The return type must match the type of the id of the fold.
• The operation takes two arguments, with the first type matching the id/start (`B`) and the second type matching the type within the list (`X`)

To show an example of how we don’t need to “reduce”, let’s return the elements of a list that’s greater than 5.

Scala Example:

``````List(5, 7, 1, 8, 9, 3).foldLeft(List.empty[Int])((c, n) => if n > 5 then c :+ n else c)
// Returns List(7, 8, 9)
``````

``````l5 c n if n > 5 then c ++ [n] else c