explicitly quantified classes in functions

Hal Daume III hdaume@ISI.EDU
Thu, 4 Apr 2002 13:46:18 -0800 (PST)

> 	> class Foo p where
> 	> instance Foo Double where
> 	> foo :: Double -> (forall q . Foo q => q)
> 	> foo p = p
> 	From my humble (lack of) knowledge, there seems to be nothing wrong
> 	here, but ghc (5.03) complains about unifying q with Double. 
> Well, of course! The result has to have type (forall q . Foo q => q), but p
> actually has type Double. Of course GHC complains.

Ah yes, silly me.  What I had in mind, I suppose, was something more along
the lines of:

foo :: Double -> (exists q . Foo q => q)

Basically, I want to be able to write a function that takes a value and
produces any value so long as the type of that returned value is an
instance of Foo.  So, for instance, a trimmed down real example of how I
want to use this:

class Foo p e where
  foo :: exists q . Foo q e => p -> e -> q
  bar :: p -> e -> Double

instance Foo Double e where
  foo p _ = p
  bar p _ = p

instance Foo [(e,Double)] e where
  foo l e = case lookup e l of { Nothing -> 0 ; _ -> 1 }
  bar l e = case lookup e l of { Nothing -> 0 ; Just x -> x }

Of course this latter Foo definition isn't really the instance I would
define, but that instance is much more complex and the complexity isn't
needed to illustrate the point.

The idea is that you take an instance of "Foo" together with an "e" (an
event) and apply those to "foo" and you get a new instance of Foo.  OTOH
you can also take an instance of Foo together with an event and get a
double out.

Sadly I'm not aware of any such "exists" predicate.  I'm hoping I'm simply
not aware :).

 - Hal