wiki:TypeNats/AlternativeSingletons

Version 1 (modified by diatchki, 3 years ago) (diff)

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We use a family of singleton types to related type-level naturals to runtime values.

In our design, we chose to provide as primitive an overloaded "smart" constructor and a polymorphic elimination construct:

newtype Nat (n :: Nat) = Nat Integer

class NatI n where
  nat :: NatI n

instance NatI 0 where nat = Nat 0
instance NatI 1 where nat = Nat 1
...

natToInteger :: Nat n -> Integer
natToInteger (Nat n) n = n

It is also possible to make the dual choice, where we provide a polymorphic constructor and an overloaded elimination construct:

data Nat (n :: Nat) = Nat

class NatE n where
  natToInteger :: Nat n -> Integer

instance NatE 0 where natToInteger Nat = 0
instance NatE 1 where natToInteger Nat = 1
...

We made this choice, at least in part, because it made the implementation simpler: the evidence for class NatI is just an integer. Note that our choice does not loose any generality because we can define the alternative design in terms of it:

data Nat1 (n :: Nat) = Nat

nat1ToInteger :: NatI n => Nat1 n -> Integer
nat1ToInteger x = natToInteger (cast nat x)
  where cast :: Nat n -> Nat1 n -> Nat n
        cast x Nat = x