wiki:GhcKinds

Version 27 (modified by dreixel, 2 years ago) (diff)

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Kind polymorphism and datatype promotion

This page gives additional implementation details for the -XPolyKinds flag. The grand design is described in the paper Giving Haskell a Promotion. Most of the work has been done and merged into GHC 7.4.1. The relevant user documentation is in [the user's guide (add link when it's up)] and on the Haskell wiki page. What still doesn't work, or doesn't work correctly, is described here.

Explicit kind variables

Currently we do not handle kind variables in the source language. So the following is invalid, for instance:

type family Apply (f :: k1 -> k2) (a :: k1)

Naturally we want to allow this. The syntax we propose is the one above, as described in the paper. (At least until ExplicitTypeApplication gets implemented.)

Future work: allow kind variable annotation. Since the core language has all the support for kind variables, this shouldn't be too hard.

Kind defaulting in type families

At the moment, when you define a type family without -XPolyKinds like this:

type family F a

it gets kind * -> *. There are no constraints on the kind of a, so we default it to *. We also default the return kind of F to *. The same happens for data families, and also for plain datatypes with phantom types.

When you turn -XPolyKinds on, however, we currently give F the kind forall (k :: BOX). k -> *. This is unsatisfactory for two reasons:

  1. The behaviour of kind generalisation changes when we turn -XPolyKinds on, even though it doesn't really have to. We could still default to * unless you give a kind signature. So if you want F to be kind polymorphic, you should write type family F (a :: k). This, of course, requires supporting explicit kind variables.

  1. Unlike the parameters, however, the return kind of F is defaulted to *. This seems rather arbitrary. We should either generalise both arguments and return kind, or default both. In case we choose to default, the more general kind can be obtained by giving a signature:
    type family F (a :: k1) :: k2
    

Future work: do more consistent kind defaulting.

#5682 (proper handling of infix promoted constructors)

Bug report #5682 shows a problem in parsing promoted infix datatypes.

Future work: handle kind operators properly in the parser.

Kind synonyms (from type synonym promotion)

At the moment we are not promoting type synonyms, i.e. the following is invalid:

data Nat = Ze | Su Nat
type Nat2 = Nat

type family Add (m :: Nat2) (n :: Nat2) :: Nat2

Future work: promote type synonyms to kind synonyms.

Kind-polymorphic Typeable

The paper describes an improved implementation of Typeable (section 2.5). This has not yet been implemented; the current Typeable class is:

class Typeable (a :: *) where
  typeOf :: a -> TypeRep

The new proposal makes it into:

data Proxy a = Proxy

class Typeable a where
  typeRep :: Proxy a -> TypeRep

Note that Proxy is kind polymorphic, and so is the new Typeable: its type argument a can have any kind k. The paper goes on to describe how we can then give kind-specific instances:

instance Typeable Int where typeRep _ = ...

instance Typeable []  where typeRep _ = ...

The following changes need to done in the compiler:

  • Update Data.Typeable in base (mostly deleting classes and adding Proxy).
  • Rewrite the deriving Typeable mechanism in TcGenDeriv.

From the user's perspective nothing has to change. We can make the new implementation backwards-compatible by:

  • Calling the method of Typeable typeRep, and not typeOf
  • Defining typeOf, typeOf1, ..., separately

Concretely, the new Data.Typeable will look something like this:

{-# LANGUAGE ScopedTypeVariables #-}
{-# LANGUAGE PolyKinds           #-}

-- Type representation: unchanged
data TypeRep = ...

-- Kind-polymorphic proxy
data Proxy t = Proxy

-- Kind-polymorphic Typeable
class Typeable a where
  typeRep :: Proxy a -> TypeRep

-- Instances for base types
instance Typeable Char   where ...
instance Typeable []     where ...
instance Typeable Either where ...

-- Old methods for backwards compatibility  
typeOf :: forall a. Typeable a => a -> TypeRep
typeOf x = typeRep (getType x) where
  getType :: a -> Proxy a
  getType _ = Proxy

typeOf1 :: forall t (a :: *). Typeable t => t a -> TypeRep
typeOf1 x = typeRep (getType1 x) where
  getType1 :: t a -> Proxy t
  getType1 _ = Proxy

This is nearly enough; remember that currently we can do things like this:

typeOf  "p"
typeOf1 "p"

And they mean different things: the first is the representation of [Char], whereas the second is the representation of []. In particular, typeOf1 "p" == typeOf1 [()], for instance. To keep this behavior we have to guarantee that a datatype T with type parameters a1 through an gets instances:

data T a1 ... an

instance Typeable T
instance (Typeable a1) => Typeable (T a1)
...
instance (Typeable a1, ..., Typeable an) => Typeable (T a1 ... an)

We can do this as before, by defining the arity n-1 instance from the arity n instance:

instance (Typeable t, Typeable (a :: *)) => Typeable (t a)
instance (Typeable t, Typeable (a :: *), Typeable (b :: *)) => Typeable (t a b)

If we're willing to use -XUndecidableInstances, we can even do this with a single instance, relying on -XPolyKinds:

instance (Typeable t, Typeable a) => Typeable (t a)

In this instance, t has kind k -> * and a has kind k.

Generalized Algebraic Data Kinds (GADKs)

Future work: this section deals with a proposal to collapse kinds and sorts into a single system so as to allow Generalised Algebraic DataKinds (GADKs). The sort BOX should become a kind, whose kind is again BOX. Kinds would no longer be classified by sorts; they would be classified by kinds.

(As an aside, sets containing themselves result in an inconsistent system; see, for instance, this example. This is not of practical concern for Haskell.)

Collapsing kinds and sorts would allow some form of indexing on kinds. Consider the following two types, currently not promotable in FC-pro:

data Proxy a = Proxy

data Ind (n :: Nat) :: * where ...

In Proxy, a has kind forall k. k. This type is not promotable because a does not have kind *. This is unfortunate, since a new feature (kind polymorphism) is getting on the way of another new feature (promoting datatypes). As for Ind, it takes an argument of kind (promoted) Nat, which renders it non-promotable. Why is this? Well, promoted Proxy and Ind would have sorts:

Proxy  :: forall s. s -> BOX

Ind    :: 'Nat -> BOX

But s is a sort variable, and 'Nat is the sort arising from promoting the kind Nat (which itself arose from promoting a datatype). FC-pro has neither sort variables nor promoted sorts. However, if there are no sorts, and BOX is the kind of all kinds, the "sorts" ("kinds", now) of promoted Proxy and Ind become:

Proxy  :: forall k. k  -> BOX

Ind    :: Nat          -> BOX

Now instead of sort variables we have kind variables, and we do not need to promote Nat again.

Kind indexing alone should not require kind equality constraints; we always require type/kind signatures for kind polymorphic stuff, so then wobbly types can be used to type check generalised algebraic kinds, avoiding the need for coercions. While this would still require some implementation effort, it should be "doable".

Better support for kinds in Template Haskell

Currently there is no support for promoted datatypes, or the kind Constraint, in Template Haskell.

Future work: address #5612, designing and implementing a way for Template Haskell to reify the new kinds.