Scrap your boilerplate with class: extensible generic functions

ACM SIGPLAN International Conference on Functional Programming (ICFP'05) |

The “scrap your boilerplate” approach to generic programming allows the programmer to generic functions that can traverse arbitrary data structures, and yet have type-specific cases. However, the approach requires all the type-specific cases to be supplied at once, when the function is defined: the function is closed. In contrast, Haskell’s type classes support open, or extensible functions, that can be extended with new type-specific cases as new data types are defined. In this paper we show how to extend the scrap-your-boilerplate approach to support this open style. On the way we demonstrate the desirablility of abstraction over type classes, and the usefulness of recursive dictionaries.