Superclass Cycle via Associated Type

Gábor Lehel illissius at
Fri Jul 22 18:27:39 CEST 2011

2011/7/22 Simon Peyton-Jones <simonpj at>:
> I talked to Dimitrios.  Fundamentally we think we should be able to handle recursive superclasses, albeit we have a bit more work to do on the type inference engine first.
> The situation we think we can handle ok is stuff like Edward wants (I've removed all the methods):
> class LeftModule Whole m => Additive m
> class Additive m => Abelian m
> class (Semiring r, Additive m) => LeftModule r m
> class Multiplicative m where (*) :: m -> m -> m
> class LeftModule Natural m => Monoidal m
> class (Abelian m, Multiplicative m, LeftModule m m) => Semiring m
> class (LeftModule Integer m, Monoidal m) => Group m
> class Multiplicative m => Unital m
> class (Monoidal r, Unital r, Semiring r) => Rig
> class (Rig r, Group r) => Ring r
> The superclasses are recursive but
>  a) They constrain only type variables
>  b) The variables in the superclass context are all
>         mentioned in the head.  In class Q => C a b c
>         fv(Q) is subset of {a,b,c}
> Question to all: is that enough?
> ======= The main difficulty with going further ==============
> Here's an extreme case
>   class A [a] => A a where
>      op :: a -> Int
>   f :: A a => a -> Int
>   f x = [[[[[x]]]]] + 1
> The RHS of f needs A [[[[[a]]]]]
> The type sig provides (A a), and hence (A [a]),
> and hence (A [[a]]) and so on.
> BUT it's hard for the solver to spot all the now-infinite number of things that are provided by the type signature.
> Gabor's example is less drastic
>   class Immutable (Frozen a) => Mutable a where
>      type Frozen a
>   class Mutable (Thawed a) => Immutable a where
>      type Thawed a
> but not much less drastic.  (Mutable a) in a signature has a potentially infinite number of superclasses
>        Immutable (Frozen a)
>        Mutable (Thawed (Frozen a))
>        ...etc...
> It's not obvious how to deal with this.
> However Gabor's example can perhaps be rendered with a MPTC:
>  class (Frozen t ~ f, Thawed f ~ t) => Mutable f t where
>   type Frozen a
>   type Thawed a
>   unsafeFreeze :: t -> Frozen t
>   unsafeThaw :: f -> Thawed f
> And you can do *that* today.

Yeah, this is pretty much what I ended up doing. As I said, I don't
think I lose anything in expressiveness by going the MPTC route, I
just think the two separate but linked classes way reads better. So
it's just a "would be nice" thing. Do recursive equality superclasses
make sense / would they be within the realm of the possible to

> Simon

Work is punishment for failing to procrastinate effectively.

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