Class constraints for associated type synonyms

Simon Peyton-Jones simonpj at
Thu Mar 24 16:36:13 CET 2011

| class Monoid (GeneratorOf a) => Generable a where
|   type GeneratorOf a :: * -> *
|   construct :: GeneratorOf a -> a
| Now, it seems I need FlexibleInstances to do this when I'm using an
| associated type synonym, but I don't need the flexibility when using a
| multiparameter type class. 

Suppose you have these wierd instances:
	type instance GeneratorOf (Tree a) = Tree (Tree a)
	instance Generable a => Monoid (Tree a)
	instance Generable (Tree a) 

Now, in the last of these we need to cough up an instance of Generable (Tree a)'s superclasses.  Ah, that's Monoid (GeneratorOf (Tree a))
Ah, that's Monoid (Tree (Tree a))
We have an instance of Monoid, but it needs, well Generable (Tree a), which is where we started. 

If I'd nested things a bit more deeply you can see I'd get into an infinite regress.   So you have to take responsibility that instance solving will terminate, hence FlexibleInstances.

As you say, the same thing can happen with fundeps. The fact that the thing is allowed is probably a bug in the Fundep stuff. 


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