.. _gadt:
Generalised Algebraic Data Types (GADTs)
----------------------------------------
.. extension:: GADTs
:shortdesc: Enable generalised algebraic data types.
Implies :extension:`GADTSyntax` and :extension:`MonoLocalBinds`.
:implies: :extension:`MonoLocalBinds`, :extension:`GADTSyntax`
:since: 6.8.1
Allow use of Generalised Algebraic Data Types (GADTs).
Generalised Algebraic Data Types generalise ordinary algebraic data
types by allowing constructors to have richer return types. Here is an
example: ::
data Term a where
Lit :: Int -> Term Int
Succ :: Term Int -> Term Int
IsZero :: Term Int -> Term Bool
If :: Term Bool -> Term a -> Term a -> Term a
Pair :: Term a -> Term b -> Term (a,b)
Notice that the return type of the constructors is not always
``Term a``, as is the case with ordinary data types. This generality
allows us to write a well-typed ``eval`` function for these ``Terms``: ::
eval :: Term a -> a
eval (Lit i) = i
eval (Succ t) = 1 + eval t
eval (IsZero t) = eval t == 0
eval (If b e1 e2) = if eval b then eval e1 else eval e2
eval (Pair e1 e2) = (eval e1, eval e2)
The key point about GADTs is that *pattern matching causes type
refinement*. For example, in the right hand side of the equation ::
eval :: Term a -> a
eval (Lit i) = ...
the type ``a`` is refined to ``Int``. That's the whole point! A precise
specification of the type rules is beyond what this user manual aspires
to, but the design closely follows that described in the paper `Simple
unification-based type inference for
GADTs `__, (ICFP
2006). The general principle is this: *type refinement is only carried
out based on user-supplied type annotations*. So if no type signature is
supplied for ``eval``, no type refinement happens, and lots of obscure
error messages will occur. However, the refinement is quite general. For
example, if we had: ::
eval :: Term a -> a -> a
eval (Lit i) j = i+j
the pattern match causes the type ``a`` to be refined to ``Int``
(because of the type of the constructor ``Lit``), and that refinement
also applies to the type of ``j``, and the result type of the ``case``
expression. Hence the addition ``i+j`` is legal.
These and many other examples are given in papers by Hongwei Xi, and Tim
Sheard. There is a longer introduction `on the
wiki `__, and Ralf Hinze's `Fun
with phantom
types `__ also
has a number of examples. Note that papers may use different notation to
that implemented in GHC.
The rest of this section outlines the extensions to GHC that support
GADTs. The extension is enabled with :extension:`GADTs`. The :extension:`GADTs` extension
also sets :extension:`GADTSyntax` and :extension:`MonoLocalBinds`.
- A GADT can only be declared using GADT-style syntax
(:ref:`gadt-style`); the old Haskell 98 syntax for data declarations
always declares an ordinary data type. The result type of each
constructor must begin with the type constructor being defined, but
for a GADT the arguments to the type constructor can be arbitrary
monotypes. For example, in the ``Term`` data type above, the type of
each constructor must end with ``Term ty``, but the ``ty`` need not
be a type variable (e.g. the ``Lit`` constructor).
- It is permitted to declare an ordinary algebraic data type using
GADT-style syntax. What makes a GADT into a GADT is not the syntax,
but rather the presence of data constructors whose result type is not
just ``T a b``.
- You cannot use a ``deriving`` clause for a GADT; only for an ordinary
data type.
- As mentioned in :ref:`gadt-style`, record syntax is supported. For
example:
::
data Term a where
Lit :: { val :: Int } -> Term Int
Succ :: { num :: Term Int } -> Term Int
Pred :: { num :: Term Int } -> Term Int
IsZero :: { arg :: Term Int } -> Term Bool
Pair :: { arg1 :: Term a
, arg2 :: Term b
} -> Term (a,b)
If :: { cnd :: Term Bool
, tru :: Term a
, fls :: Term a
} -> Term a
However, for GADTs there is the following additional constraint:
every constructor that has a field ``f`` must have the same result
type (modulo alpha conversion) Hence, in the above example, we cannot
merge the ``num`` and ``arg`` fields above into a single name.
Although their field types are both ``Term Int``, their selector
functions actually have different types:
::
num :: Term Int -> Term Int
arg :: Term Bool -> Term Int
See :ref:`field-selectors-and-type-applications` for a full description of
how the types of top-level field selectors are determined.
- When pattern-matching against data constructors drawn from a GADT,
for example in a ``case`` expression, the following rules apply:
- The type of the scrutinee must be rigid.
- The type of the entire ``case`` expression must be rigid.
- The type of any free variable mentioned in any of the ``case``
alternatives must be rigid.
A type is "rigid" if it is completely known to the compiler at its
binding site. The easiest way to ensure that a variable a rigid type
is to give it a type signature. For more precise details see `Simple
unification-based type inference for
GADTs `__. The
criteria implemented by GHC are given in the Appendix.