wiki:TypeNats/Implementation

Version 2 (modified by diatchki, 3 years ago) (diff)

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The only "magic" thing about GHC.TypeNats are the instances of TypeNat. The rest is implemented like this:

newtype Nat (n :: Nat) = Nat Integer

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

So, now we just need instances like these:

instance TypeNat 0 where nat = Nat 0
instance TypeNat 1 where nat = Nat 1
instance TypeNat 2 where nat = Nat 2
...

Because we cannot generate this infinite family of instances, we have some code in GHC which can solve TypeNat predicates on the fly.

The "proof" (aka "dictionary") for TypeNat n is just the number n. This is OK because:

  1. GHC uses a newtype to represent the dictionaries for classes that have just a single method and no super-classes. TypeNat is just such a class.
  2. Nat is already a newtype for Integer.

Therefore, the dictionaries for class TypeNat are just integers.