Coherent explicit dictionary application for Haskell

Thomas Winant, Dominique Devriese
2018 Proceedings of the 11th ACM SIGPLAN International Symposium on Haskell - Haskell 2018  
Type classes are one of Haskell's most popular features and extend its type system with ad-hoc polymorphism. Since their conception, there were useful features that could not be offered because of the desire to offer two correctness properties: coherence and global uniqueness of instances. Coherence essentially guarantees that program semantics are independent from type-checker internals. Global uniqueness of instances is relied upon by libraries for enforcing, for example, that a single order
more » ... elation is used for all manipulations of an ordered binary tree. The features that could not be offered include explicit dictionary application and local instances, which would be highly useful in practice. In this paper, we propose a new design for offering explicit dictionary application, without compromising coherence and global uniqueness. We introduce a novel criterion based on GHC's type argument roles to decide when a dictionary application is safe with respect to global uniqueness of instances. We preserve coherence by detecting potential sources of incoherence, and prove it formally. Moreover, our solution makes it possible to use local dictionaries. In addition to developing our ideas formally, we have implemented a working prototype in GHC.
doi:10.1145/3242744.3242752 dblp:conf/haskell/WinantD18 fatcat:67a4dcdek5fjhk4tefavazkciy