[Haskell-cafe] Multi-parameter type class woes

Alexander Dunlap alexander.dunlap at gmail.com
Mon Dec 15 19:11:49 EST 2008

2008/12/15 Mario Blazevic <mblazevic at stilo.com>:
> Alexander Dunlap wrote:
>> On Sun, Dec 14, 2008 at 8:10 PM, Mario Blažević <mblazevic at stilo.com>
>> wrote:
>>>> I'll take a swing at this one:
>>>> instance Container (Maybe x) [x] where
>>>> wrapper = isNothing
>>>> . . .
>>>> That isn't a sensible definition of 'wrapper', but I believe without
>>>> trying to compile it is completely legal.  Which wrapper do you use?
>>>> You /don't/ have a different matching Container instance, but without
>>>> the
>>>> functional dependency you /might/, and ghc barfs.
>>>   But liftWrap doesn't require any particular instance, it's a
>>> generic function accepting any pair of types for which there is
>>> an instance of Container. Instance selection (as I understand it)
>>> shouldn't come into play until one applies liftWrap to a
>>> particular type, and indeed it does cause problems there: note
>>> the type annotations on the last line. That part I understand
>>> and accept, or at least have learned to live with.
>> The problem is that y is not mentioned in the signature of wrapper.
>> When you call wrapper x, there could be many different instances of
>> Container x y with the same x, so GHC doesn't know which version to
>> call.
>        I guess I see it now. However, if the explicit 'Container x y =>'
> context couldn't fix the y to use for instantiation of Container x y, I
> don't see any way to fix it. And if there is no way to call wrapper in any
> context, the class declaration itself is illegal and GHC should have
> reported the error much sooner. Should I create a ticket?
>> You can fix this problem either by adding a functional
>> dependency or by splitting wrapper out into its own class (Wrapper x,
>> e.g.) so all of the type variables in the class head are mentioned in
>> its type and the instance can be determined by the call.
>> Thanks for asking this question, by the way. I had known about this
>> issue but had never really realized why it happened. Now that I have
>> thought about it, I understand it too. :)
>> Hope that helps,
>> Alex

I think that http://www.haskell.org/pipermail/haskell-cafe/2008-April/041461.html
may be relevant. It's a design decision.


More information about the Haskell-Cafe mailing list