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A system of constructor classes: overloading and implicit higher-order polymorphism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 November 2008

Mark P. Jones
Affiliation:
Department of Computer Science, Yale University, PO Box 208285, New Haven, CT 06520-8285, USA (e-mail: jones-mark@cs.yale.edu)
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Abstract

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This paper describes a flexible type system that combines overloading and higher-order polymorphism in an implicitly typed language using a system of constructor classes—a natural generalization of type classes in Haskell. We present a range of examples to demonstrate the usefulness of such a system. In particular, we show how constructor classes can be used to support the use of monads in a functional language. The underlying type system permits higher-order polymorphism but retains many of the attractive features that have made Hindley/Milner type systems so popular. In particular, there is an effective algorithm that can be used to calculate principal types without the need for explicit type or kind annotations. A prototype implementation has been developed providing, amongst other things, the first concrete implementation of monad comprehensions known to us at the time of writing.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995

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