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Scoped type variables

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Revision as of 20:04, 22 December 2009

Scoped Type Variables are an extension to Haskell's type system that allow free type variables to be re-used in the scope of a function. They are also described in the GHC documentation.

As an example, consider the following functions:

{-# LANGUAGE ScopedTypeVariables #-}
mkpair1 :: forall a b. a -> b -> (a,b)
mkpair1 aa bb = (ida aa, bb)
      ida :: a -> a -- This refers to a in the function's type signature
      ida = id
mkpair2 :: forall a b. a -> b -> (a,b)
mkpair2 aa bb = (ida aa, bb)
      ida :: b -> b -- Illegal, because refers to b in type signature
      ida = id
mkpair3 :: a -> b -> (a,b)
mkpair3 aa bb = (ida aa, bb)
      ida :: b -> b -- Legal, because b is now a free variable
      ida = id

Scoped type variables make it possible to specify the particular type of a function in situations where it is not otherwise possible, which can in turn help avoid problems with the Monomorphism restriction.

This feature should be better documented in the Wiki, but this is a start.