Version 8 (modified by 9 years ago) (diff) | ,
---|

# Infix Type Constructors

## Brief Explanation

**First proposal**: allow infix notation in types, in two forms:

- Regular names in back quotes. This works for type constructors (eg
`a `TyCon` b`

) and type variables (eg`Int `a` Bool`

) - Operator symbols (e.g. (
`a + b`

), or (`a :+: b`

).

**Second proposal**, make *both* varsyms *and* consyms be type *constructors*.
That would allow us to say this:

data a + b = Left a | Right b

That is, we want to define the type *constructor* `(+)`

. GHC's current choice (done for a pseudo-consistency with the value level) is to allow only consyms as type constructors. So we cannot give the declaration above (because `(+)`

is a type variable. Instead we can say only this:

data a :+ b = Left a | Right b

Yuk. So I propose that varsyms can be used as type constructors, and not as type variables.

Changes to the syntax may depend on whether CompositionAsDot is adopted, but roughly speaking we add

qtycon -> qconid | ( qconsym ) qtyconop -> qconsym | ` qconid `

And `type`

gets an extra production:

type -> btype qtyconop type

(modulo FixityResolution). Also, there are obvious changes to the grammar for `type`

, `data`

, and `newtype`

declarations.

## Observations

- You may say that it's inconsistent for
`(+)`

to range over type constructors, because at the value level you have to start data constructors with a ":". But the type level is already funny. The whole type-family idea (including H98 type synonyms) defines things that begin with a capital letter, but which (unlike data constructors) are not head normal forms. Looking further ahead, by the time we have full type-synonym families, they really are*functions*as much as any value-level function is. For example it would be silly to insist on a leading colon here:type family (+) :: * -> * -> * type instance Zero + n2 = n2 type instance (Succ n1) + n2 = Succ (n1 + n2)

- Note that classes can be infix too; this is useful.

- If you say
`module M( (+) ) where ...`

are you exporting the type constructor`(+)`

or the value`(+)`

? Ditto import lists. Possibilities:- An ambiguous reference defaults to the locally-defined one. (If we did this we should do so consistently, including for unqualified names in the text of a module. I think this'd be a Good Thing. A warning flag could warn if you used it. It's just like shadowing.)
- If the two
`(+)`

things are not both locally defined, you can disambiguate with a qualified name`Prelude.(+)`

or`M.(+)`

. That does not help if you define*both*in`M`

. - Use a keyword to distinguish; eg
`module M( data (+) ) where`

. There are design issues here (e.g. distinguish`data`

and`newtype`

?).

- Can you set the fixity of a type constructor
`T`

differently than the data constructor`T`

? This is a similar ambiguity to the one in export lists. Except that in this case it is very common to have a type constructor and data constructor with the same name.

- Need to allow infix notation in contexts
f :: (a >> b) => bla blah

- Watch out for code like this (http://hackage.haskell.org/trac/ghc/ticket/1727)
infixr 5 `Foo` infixr 6 `Bar` data a `Foo` b = a `FOO` a `Bar` b data a `Bar` b = a `BAR` b

## References

- Infix type constructors, classes, and type variables in the GHC User's Guide.

## Tickets

- #78
- Add infix type constructors

## Pros

- This is a straightforward generalisation, and doesn't break any existing code (except code that uses GHC extensions to have a type variable that is an operator).
- It's very useful to write type expressions like
`(a + b)`

.

## Cons

- If operators are type constructors, they can't also be type variables. I know one place where people use a type variable that is an operator. Something like this.
data T (~>) = MkT (Int ~> Int)

We'd have to use a type variable in back-quotes instead.