[Haskell-cafe] Re: class default method proposal

apfelmus apfelmus at quantentunnel.de
Tue Dec 11 12:22:16 EST 2007

Jules Bean wrote:
> David Menendez wrote:
>> Duncan Coutts wrote:
>>> So my suggestion is that we let classes declare default 
>>> implementations of methods from super-classes.
>> It creates ambiguity if two classes declare defaults for a common 
>> superclass.
>> My standard example involves Functor, Monad, and Comonad. Both Monad 
>> and Comonad could provide a default implementation for fmap. But let's 
>> say I have a type which is both a Monad and a Comonad: which default 
>> implementation gets used?
>> I'm disappointed to see this objection isn't listed on the wiki.
> Doesn't sound like a very big problem. That would just be a compile time 
> error ("More than one default for fmap possible for Foo, please reslve 
> ambiguity").

And how would you resolve that ambiguity?

   module Control.Functor.UsefulStuff (hylo) where
     hylo :: Functor f => (a -> f a) -> (f b -> b) -> a -> b
     hylo f g = g . fmap (hylo f g) . f

   module BANG where
     import Foo (Foo)
     import Foo.Is.Monad
     import Foo.Is.Comonad

     import Control.Functor.UsefulStuff (hylo)

     bar :: Bar -> Foo Bar
     baz :: Foo Baz -> Baz

     bang = hylo bar baz

The problem is that the ambiguity may arise by just importing different 
modules while not having access to the offending call to  fmap .

Also note that as much as I'd like explicit import/export of type class 
instances, the current implicit and global export is no accident, it's 
crucial for well-definedness. See also the second half of


In other words, the main problem of all those superclass/explicit 
import/export proposals is that there are no proofs of the fact that 
they only allow well-defined programs. The homework isn't done yet, 
discussing adoption is too early.


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