Difference between revisions of "Rank-N types"

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(Encoding of existentials in terms of higher rank types)
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<hask>{-# LANGUAGE Rank2Types #-}</hask> or <hask>{-# LANGUAGE RankNTypes #-}</hask>.
 
<hask>{-# LANGUAGE Rank2Types #-}</hask> or <hask>{-# LANGUAGE RankNTypes #-}</hask>.
   
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== Relation to Existentials ==
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In order to unpack an existential type, you need a polymorphic function that works on any type that could be stored in the existential. This leads to a natural relation between higher-rank types and existentials; and an encoding of existentials in terms of higher rank types in continuation-passing style.
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In general, you can replace
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<hask>data T a1 .. ai = forall t1 .. tj. constraints => Constructor e1 .. ek</hask> (where <hask>e1..ek</hask> are types in terms of <hask>a1..ai</hask> and <hask>t1..tj</hask>)
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<hask>Constructor exp1 .. expk -- application of the constructor</hask>
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<hask>case e of (Constructor pat1 .. patk) -> res</hask>
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with
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<hask>data T' a1 .. ai = Constructor' (forall b. (forall t1..tj. constraints => e1 -> e2 -> ... -> ek -> b) -> b)</hask>
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<hask>Constructor' (\f -> f exp1 .. expk)</hask>
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<hask>case e of (Constructor' f) -> let k pat1 .. patk = res in f k</hask>
   
 
== Also see ==
 
== Also see ==

Revision as of 06:46, 11 November 2008


About

Normal Haskell '98 types are considered Rank-1 types. A Haskell '98 type signature such as

a -> b -> a

implies that the type variables are universally quantified like so:

forall a b. a -> b -> a

forall can be floated out of the right-hand side of (->) if it appears there, so:

forall a. a -> (forall b. b -> a)

is also a Rank-1 type because it is equivalent to the previous signature.

However, a forall appearing within the left-hand side of (->) cannot be moved up, and therefore forms another level or rank. The type is labeled "Rank-N" where N is the number of foralls which are nested and cannot be merged with a previous one. For example:

(forall a. a -> a) -> (forall b. b -> b)

is a Rank-2 type because the latter forall can be moved to the start but the former one cannot. Therefore, there are two levels of universal quantification.

Rank-N type reconstruction is undecidable in general, and some explicit type annotations are required in their presence.

Rank-2 or Rank-N types may be specifically enabled by the language extensions {-# LANGUAGE Rank2Types #-} or {-# LANGUAGE RankNTypes #-}.

Relation to Existentials

In order to unpack an existential type, you need a polymorphic function that works on any type that could be stored in the existential. This leads to a natural relation between higher-rank types and existentials; and an encoding of existentials in terms of higher rank types in continuation-passing style.

In general, you can replace

data T a1 .. ai = forall t1 .. tj. constraints => Constructor e1 .. ek (where e1..ek are types in terms of a1..ai and t1..tj)

Constructor exp1 .. expk -- application of the constructor

case e of (Constructor pat1 .. patk) -> res

with

data T' a1 .. ai = Constructor' (forall b. (forall t1..tj. constraints => e1 -> e2 -> ... -> ek -> b) -> b)

Constructor' (\f -> f exp1 .. expk)

case e of (Constructor' f) -> let k pat1 .. patk = res in f k

Also see

Rank-N types on the Haskell' website.