# Functors, applicatives, and friends by Mark Seemann

*Functors and related data structures are containers of values. It's a family of abstractions. An overview for object-oriented programmers.*

This article series is part of an even larger series of articles about the relationship between design patterns and category theory.

If you've worked with C# or Java recently, you've most likely encountered types such as `Foo<T>`

or `Bar<T>`

(specifically, on .NET, e.g. List<T>). Perhaps you've also noticed that often, you can translate the type inside of the container. For example, if you have a `Foo<string>`

, perhaps you can call some method on it that returns a `Foo<int>`

. If so, it may be a *functor*.

Not all generic types are functors. In order to be a functor, a generic type must obey a couple of intuitive laws. You'll learn about those in future articles.

Some functors have extra capabilities, and you'll learn about some of those as well. Some are called *applicative functors*, and some are called *bifunctors*. There are others, as well.

All applicative functors are functors, and this is true for bifunctors as well.

In this article series, you'll learn about the following categories:

- Functors
- Applicative functors
- Bifunctors
- Contravariant functors
- The Command Handler contravariant functor
- The Specification contravariant functor
- The Equivalence contravariant functor
- Reader as a contravariant functor
- Functor variance compared to C#'s notion of variance

**Next:** Functors.