"A lazy (~) pattern cannot bind existential type variables"?
Conal Elliott
conal at conal.net
Sun Nov 16 01:33:40 EST 2008
What is the reasoning behind the ghc restriction that "A lazy (~) pattern
cannot bind existential type variables"?
This error came up for me in the following code:
-- | Add a continuation.
data WithCont h b c = forall a. WC (h b a) (a -> c)
instance Functor (WithCont h b) where
fmap g ~(WC f k) = WC f (fmap g k)
The error message:
A lazy (~) pattern cannot bind existential type variables
`a' is a rigid type variable bound by
the constructor `WC' at Data/Zip/FoldL.hs:66:11
In the pattern: ~(WC f k)
I also tried this variation:
instance Functor (WithCont h b) where
fmap g wc = WC f (fmap g k)
where WC f k = wc
and got this message:
My brain just exploded.
I can't handle pattern bindings for existentially-quantified
constructors.
Instead, use a case-expression, or do-notation, to unpack the
constructor.
In the binding group for
WC f k
In a pattern binding: WC f k = wc
I can work around these limitations by using a lambda:
instance Functor (WithCont h b) where
fmap g = \ (WC f k) -> WC f (fmap g k)
which I believe is equivalent. Please correct me if I'm wrong here.
For infix definitions like (<*>), however, this work-around is less
pleasant.
For instance,
(<*>) = \ (WC hf hk) (WC xf xk) ->
WC (hf `zip` xf) (\ (a,a') -> (hk a) (xk a'))
instead of the prettier but forbidden
~(WC hf hk) <*> ~(WC xf xk) =
WC (hf `zip` xf) (\ (a,a') -> (hk a) (xk a'))
If you're curious what these definitions are about, see
http://conal.net/blog/posts/enhancing-a-zip/ .
Thanks, - Conal
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