Blog > 2018

The hotel that became the world’s first business to accept Ada

I visited Hotel Ginebra in Barcelona to stay a night and meet the manager

5 January 2018 Olga González 7 mins read

The hotel that became the world’s first business to accept Ada - Input Output

The hotel that became the world’s first business to accept Ada

Hotel Ginebra is a boutique hotel in Catalunya Square, which if you have visited Barcelona you will know is a prime location in the heart of the city. Guests can wake up in the morning to a great view of the city, but what they may not know is that the hotel has earned its place in history. It recently became the first business in the world to accept Ada, the Cardano cryptocurrency launched at the end of September. I went to check out the hotel, to meet the manager, and to learn the story of how it came to accept Ada. Alfred Moesker is one of those who fell in love with this city. Born in the Netherlands, he had owned a hotel in Rome for years before he came to Barcelona and with his partner Yvonne Daniels took over Hotel Ginebra in 2013. Alfred and Yvonne are innovative managers who believe Ada can bring big benefits to the hotel industry, as well as to the wider world. I decided to make use of the offer to pay in Ada and found it was easy and efficient: the first of many transactions to be done, I am sure about that!

I asked Alfred what he felt about being the first business to accept Ada in payment.

“Incredibly proud,” he said. “For reasons we even fail to completely understand ourselves, we are more proud about it as we have been about anything else we have done for a long time. But working with Ada just feels right to us and it is a project that we feel we can identify with, not just something we just use and then throw away later.

In the short time since my visit, Alfred says quite a few people – including from Japan – have walked into the hotel inquiring if they can pay with Ada if they were to book a room. In a follow-up email he said: “To see how excited they get when we tell them ‘yes, you can’ is fantastic to witness.”

The hotel is in a typically Catalan building, with a regal style on the outside and a modernist feeling once you go in. It has been completely reformed on the inside and the rooms are cozy and quiet; they range from small, single rooms to big suites, so the hotel is very versatile. There are also great common spaces for guests (the use of which is included in the room price), computers with internet access, break rooms with tables and sofas, and snack rooms with tea, coffee and pastries available at all times. The staff are wonderful, kind and efficient, there’s a 24-hour reception service and they will greet you with a nice glass of wine and a chocolate once you’re settled in your room. If the location and the well-kept inside wasn’t enough to make it a great stay, the staff totally top it!

View from Hotel Ginebra, Barcelona
View of Catalunya Square from Hotel Ginebra

It’s not hard to see why Alfred and Yvonne moved to Barcelona. The hotel overlooks Plaça de Catalunya’s famous fountains and the main streets: La Rambla, where there are restaurants, museums, and shops, before you finally get to the beach; Passeig de Gràcia, if you love haute couture or want to have a taste of fancy Barcelona take a stroll around here, and Portal de l’Àngel, which leads to Barcelona Cathedral and the gothic district, and where you will find the famous Santa Llúcia fair if you’re visiting in winter). What all these places have in common, aside from being Barcelona’s heart and soul, is that they’re a three-minute walk from Hotel Ginebra.

Alfred came across Ada after reading an online article. He was just learning about Bitcoin at the time and was put off by its huge price volatility, fluctuating values not being nice and predictable for a business. He wondered instead whether alt coins might have a role to play in his business. A friend warned him that cryptocurrency was “like the wild west” because it was an emerging technology, but he preserved with his research and came across Cardano and the whiteboard videos.

“I liked the idea behind cryptocurrency,” he said. The peer to peer principle definitely is very attractive to us personally. We have had our share of bad experiences with banks and the idea that there is something else out there that can make the system a bit fairer just sounded all too appealing.

“Then I read about the Cardano project which seemed the opposite of exciting. It featured a photo of Jeremy Wood and Charles Hoskinson, both clearly the academic type – bordering on "nerdy" in a good way! When we read how they had been carefully constructing this project in order to take out the flaws of other cryptocurrencies and offer a much more "balanced" product, we thought ‘bingo’!!!”

Alfred liked the fact that Ada had been designed to be used as a cryptocurrency and also that it was part of Cardano, a system that would “lay the foundations for many projects in the crypto industry for many years to come”. “We get a strong sense that Ada is a product that will do good in the world and that has been set up for the right reasons,” he said.

Ada could also bring big benefits to the hotel industry in Alfred’s view.

“Accepting a cryptocurrency in general opens up a new segment of the travelling global population,” he said. “Accepting Ada will very importantly give us a chance to also go back to peer to peer relations with our potential customers. Nowadays the big reservation portals have so much commercial power that you are pretty much at their mercy.”

“Imagine if and when Ada has been distributed globally. A lot more people, that now do not have a credit card or have credit rating problems and can’t easily make a hotel reservation, by using ADA will be able to make a reservation in one minute. In our opinion it will promote financial global equality, at least that seems very likely from what we see happening with the hotel reservation process and hotel industry.”

Alfred and Yvonne
Alfred and Yvonne at Hotel Ginebra

All in all, visiting the hotel and meeting Alfred was a very positive experience. I spent a wonderful night in a nice hotel with kind staff in the center of the city, waking up in Barcelona’s heart at a good price and used a safe, direct form of payment. Either if you’re travelling for business or on holiday, alone or with friends or family, I can totally recommend it.

Alfred was very excited about Cardano’s potential and proud to be a part of the community.

His words about what attracted him to Cardano and its community were:

“It is hard to define…it is just one of those things you come across in your life sometimes and you just know it’s right, even when you only understand a fraction of the “why” at the time.

“What we do know is that it seems to connect us also on a personal level to what is apparently a pretty special group of people who also like this project and what more can you wish for in life?”

This article was contributed by a guest blogger and you can show appreciation for this blog by donating Ada to Olga at the following address:

Please be aware that this is an Ada address and only funds sent in Ada will be received.

Telescopic Proof Refinement

2 January 2018 Rebecca Valentine 12 mins read

Telescopic Proof Refinement - Input Output

Telescopic Proof Refinement

In the third post in this series (part 1, part 2) on proof refinement, I'm going to show you how to properly handle bidirectionality in an elegant way. The technique we'll use is the replacement of lists and functions with a data structure called a telescope. This post will use Haskell exclusively, because of the limitations of JavaScript in presenting these things elegantly. I've put together REPLs for this blog post so you can play around with the code. You can find them here: Addition 1, Addition 2, Addition 3, Lambda Calculus.

Consider the type that represented a successful decomposition of a problem judgment into subproblems, when working in the proof system for addition: ([Judgment], [Nat] -> Nat). The list of judgments represents the subproblems, and the function represents how to compute the result of the main problem from the results of the subproblems. This was problematic to generalize though, because it meant that all of the subproblems had to be independent. You couldn't use the result of solving an earlier subproblem to state what a later problem was. Information flowed strictly from subproblems out to main problems, never into other subproblems.

This of course was because the subproblems were all given at the same time, and the results were all simultaneous arguments to the function that computed the main result. For instance, we might have a decomposition that looked like ([j0,j1,j2], f) where f = \[r0,r1,r2] -> ..., and we would solve these basically as f [solve j0, solve j1, solve j2]. What could we do to make it possible to have dependence of later problems are earlier results, though? Well, we could produce subproblems and consume results one at a time. In fact, instead of the above pair, why not have (j0, \r0 -> (j1, \r1 -> (r2, \r2 -> ...))). This has the type (Judgment, Nat -> (Judgment, Nat -> (Judgment, Nat -> Nat))), which is specific to the case where the list of subproblems has exactly three subproblems in it. This doesn't generalize well, but we can notice the obvious recursive pattern and instead define

data Problems = Done Nat
              | SubProblem Judgment (Nat -> Problems)

Here, we're either done, and we have a resulting number, or we have a subproblem to solve, and a way of getting from the result of solving it to some more problems. Now of course, decomposing actually produced a Maybe ([Judgment], [Nat] -> Nat), so we really ought to define this type to account for the Nothing case as well:

data Problems = Fail
              | Done Nat
              | SubProblem Judgment (Nat -> Problems)

Our decompositions now will look mostly the same, but slightly different:

decomposePlus12 :: Nat -> Nat -> Problems
decomposePlus12 Zero    y = Done y
decomposePlus12 (Suc x) y = SubProblem (Plus12 x y) (\z -> Done (Suc z))

decomposePlus13 :: Nat -> Nat -> Problems
decomposePlus13 Zero z = Done z
decomposePlus13 (Suc x) (Suc z) = SubProblem (Plus13 x z) (\z -> Done z)
decomposePlus13 _ _ = Fail

decompose :: Judgment -> Problems
decompose (Plus12 x y) = decomposePlus12 x y
decompose (Plus13 x z) = decomposePlus13 x z

Finding a proof is pretty easy now too, because we can just define it in in terms of a second function that handles problems more generally. Dropping the reconstruction of a proof tree, we have:

findProof :: Judgment -> Maybe Nat
findProof j = solveProblems (decompose j)

solveProblems :: Problems -> Maybe Nat
solveProblems Fail = Nothing
solveProblems (Done x) = return x
solveProblems (SubProblem j f) =
  do x <- findProof j
     solveProblems (f x)

The interesting thing here is how we solve problems. If we fail, well, we've failed, so there's nothing to return. If we've finished, we've finished and so there's a number to return. But what if we have a subproblem? Well, we simply find a proof for it, computing the result as x, and then use the result of that to get more problems to solve, and solve those.


Having established the general shape of this approach, we can now move on to generalizing the pattern involved. The first move we'll make is to observe that we might want to generalize the type of judgments to index for the type of their result. After all, we might also want to include predicates in the class of possible judgments, where there are no useful return values at all, just (). So we can generalize Judgment, and in term, Problems, like so:

data Judgment r where
  Plus12 :: Nat -> Nat -> Judgment Nat
  Plus13 :: Nat -> Nat -> Judgment Nat

data Problems r where
  Fail :: Problems r
  Done :: r -> Problems r
  SubProblem :: Judgment s -> (s -> Problems r) -> Problems r

As soon as we do this, we discover that Problems looks an awful lot like a monad, and indeed, it is!

instance Functor Problems where
  fmap f Fail = Fail
  fmap f (Done x) = Done (f x)
  fmap f (SubProblem p g) = SubProblem p (fmap f . g)

instance Applicative Problems where
  pure = Done
  pf <*> px = pf >>= \f -> px >>= \x -> return (f x)

instance Monad Problems where
  return = Done
  Fail >>= g = Fail
  Done x >>= g = g x
  SubProblem p f >>= g = SubProblem p (\x -> f x >>= g)

This monad instance basically just codes up concatenation of problems. With lists of judgments, we can just concatenate them, but what to do with the functions that construct results? Here instead we say that if we have one sequence of problems that produces some result, and from that result, we can compute another sequence of problems, well we can just dig around in the first sequence and replace its Done node (which ends the sequence of problems with the result) by the problems we would get. We thus get a single big sequence of problems.

This monadic interfaces also gives us a really elegant way of writing these telescopes:

subProblem :: Judgment r -> Problems r
subProblem j = SubProblem j (\x -> Done x)

decomposePlus12 :: Nat -> Nat -> Problems Nat
decomposePlus12 Zero    y = return y
decomposePlus12 (Suc x) y =
  do z <- subProblem (Plus12 x y) 
     return (Suc z)

decomposePlus13 :: Nat -> Nat -> Problems Nat
decomposePlus13 Zero z = return z
decomposePlus13 (Suc x) (Suc z) =
  subProblem (Plus13 x z)
decomposePlus13 _ _ = Fail

Let's add in a full ternary predicate version of our Plus to see how this works with other kinds of returned values:

data Judgment r where
  Plus12 :: Nat -> Nat -> Judgment Nat
  Plus13 :: Nat -> Nat -> Judgment Nat
  Plus123 :: Nat -> Nat -> Nat -> Judgment ()

decomposePlus123 :: Nat -> Nat -> Nat -> Problems ()
decomposePlus123 Zero y z =
  if y == z
     then return ()
     else Fail
decomposePlus123 (Suc x) y (Suc z) =
  subProblem (Plus123 x y z)

Readers who are especially familiar with functional programming idioms will observe that this is a variety of free monad construct, namely, the call-response tree variety.

And now, what parts of this really depend on the problem domain of addition? Well, clearly Judgment, because that defines what the problems are in the first place. And of course, as a result of that, the various decomposition functions. But not much else, provided we have some means of abstracting over those. Namely: the Problems type can be generalized away from Judgment, and findProof can be generalized away from the implementation of decompose, by way of a type class.

data Problems (j :: * -> *) (r :: *) where
  Fail :: Problems j r
  Done :: r -> Problems j r
  SubProblem :: j s -> (s -> Problems j r) -> Problems j r

subProblem :: j r -> Problems j r
subProblem j = SubProblem j (\x -> Done x)

class Decomposable j where
  decompose :: j r -> Problems j r

findProof :: Decomposable j => j r -> Maybe r
findProof j = solveProblems (decompose j)

solveProblems :: Decomposable j => Problems j r -> Maybe r
solveProblems Fail = Nothing
solveProblems (Done x) = Just x
solveProblems (SubProblem j f) =
  do x <- findProof j
     solveProblems (f x)

Having abstracted this far, we now can extract this into a little library and use this for bidirectional proof systems in general. Let's now tackle the simply typed lambda calculus.

Simply Typed LC

Because we've extracted out the proof refinement toolkit, we need to only give definitions for the judgments and decomposition of our lambda calculus. This is a great simplification from the setting before. We can now express that type checking is a judgment that produces no interesting information, but that type synthesis will give us some type information:

data Judgment r where
  Check :: [(String,Type)] -> Program -> Type -> Judgment ()
  Synth :: [(String,Type)] -> Program -> Judgment Type

Our decompositions are now more interesting as well, and hopefully a bit more insightful:

decomposeCheck :: [(String,Type)] -> Program -> Type -> Problems Judgment ()
decomposeCheck g (Pair m n) (Prod a b) =
  do subProblem (Check g m a)
     subProblem (Check g n b)
decomposeCheck g (Lam x m) (Arr a b) =
  subProblem (Check ((x,a):g) m b)
decomposeCheck g m a =
  do a2 <- subProblem (Synth g m)
     if a == a2
        then return ()
        else Fail

decomposeSynth :: [(String,Type)] -> Program -> Problems Judgment Type
decomposeSynth g (Var x) =
  case lookup x g of
    Nothing -> Fail
    Just a -> return a
decomposeSynth g (Ann m a) =
  do subProblem (Check g m a)
     return a
decomposeSynth g (Fst p) =
  do t <- subProblem (Synth g p)
     case t of
       Prod a b -> return a
       _ -> Fail
decomposeSynth g (Snd p) =
  do t <- subProblem (Synth g p)
     case t of
       Prod a b -> return b
       _ -> Fail
decomposeSynth g (App f x) =
  do t <- subProblem (Synth g f)
     case t of
       Arr a b ->
         do subProblem (Check g x a)
            return b
       _ -> Fail
decomposeSynth g m = Fail

instance Decomposable Judgment where
  decompose (Check g m a) = decomposeCheck g m a
  decompose (Synth g m) = decomposeSynth g m

And we're done! That is the full definition of the type checker for the simply typed lambda calculus with pairs and functions! It has the benefit of being fairly straightforward to read.


This wraps up the series of blog posts on proof refinement. One limitation to this approach is that errors are uninformative, but we can actually modify this toolkit to provide not just informative errors (Either instead of Maybe), but highly informative context-aware errors that know what subproblems are being worked on. Another limitation is that the above toolkit only works for when there is at most one result from the bottom-up direction. That is to say, either a judgment has no proofs, and so there's no bottom-up result, or it has exactly one proof and thus one bottom-up result. But we might have multiple such results, for instance, we might have instead built a system for addition that has the first two arguments of Plus as the bottom-up results (i.e. solutions for Plus3 c), and we'd like to be able to get out all pairs (x,y) such that x + y = c for fixed c. There are plenty of those pairs, so we had better be able to get some kind of list-like results. We also might imagine some other kind of system where in the course of constructing a proof we need to invent something out of thin air, such as a new name for a variable. In that kind of setting we'd like to have a proof system that could make use of some state for the collection of generated names. I'll look at both of these limitations in future blog posts.

If you have comments or questions, get it touch. I'm @psygnisfive on Twitter, augur on freenode (in #cardano and #haskell).

This post is the third part of a three part series, the first post is Proof Refinement Basics, and the second post is Bidirectional Proof Refinement.