Erg can subtype polymorphic types, but there are some caveats.

First, consider the inclusion relation of ordinary polymorphic types. In general, there is a container K and a type A, B to which it assigns, and when A < B, K A < K B. For example, Option Int < Option Object. Therefore, methods defined in Option Object can also be used in Option Int.

Consider the typical polymorphic type Array!(T). Note that this time it's not Array!(T, N) because we don't care about the number of elements. Now, the Array!(T) type has methods called .push! and .pop!, which mean adding and removing elements, respectively. Here is the type:

Array.push!: Self(T).(T) => NoneType Array.pop!: Self(T).() => T

As can be intuitively understood,

  • Array!(Object).push!(s) is OK when s: Str (just upcast Str to Object)
  • When o: Object, Array!(Str).push!(o) is NG
  • Array!(Object).pop!().into(Str) is NG
  • Array!(Str).pop!().into(Object) is OK

is. In terms of the type system, this is

  • (Self(Object).(Object) => NoneType) < (Self(Str).(Str) => NoneType)
  • (Self(Str).() => Str) < (Self(Object).() => Object)


The former may seem strange. Even though Str < Object, the inclusion relation is reversed in the function that takes it as an argument. In type theory, such a relation (the type relation of .push!) is called contravariant, and vice versa, the type relation of .pop! is called covariant. In other words, function types are contravariant with respect to their argument types and covariant with respect to their return types. It sounds complicated, but as we saw earlier, it's a reasonable rule if you apply it to an actual example. If you still don't quite get it, consider the following.

One of Erg's design principles is "large input types, small output types". This is precisely the case for function mutability. Looking at the rules above, the larger the input type, the smaller the overall type. This is because general-purpose functions are clearly rarer than special-purpose functions. And the smaller the output type, the smaller the whole.

As a result, the above policy is equivalent to saying "minimize the type of the function".


Erg has another modification. It is non-variance. This is a modification that built-in types such as SharedCell! T! have. This means that for two types T! = U!, even if there is an inclusion relation, it means that you cannot cast between SharedCell! T! and SharedCell! U!.

This is because SharedCell! T! is a shared reference. See shared references for details.

Mutated generic type

A universal type variable can specify its upper and lower bounds.

|A <: T| K(A)
|B :> T| K(B)

In the type variable list, the variant specification of the type variable is performed. In the above variant specification, the type variable A is declared to be any subclass of type T and the type variable B is declared to be any superclass of type T. In this case, T is also called the upper type for A and the lower type for B.

Mutation specifications can also overlap.

# U<A<T
|A<: T, A :> U| ...

Here is an example of code that uses a variable specification.

show|S <: Show| s: S = log s

Nil T = Class(Impl = Phantom T)
Cons T = Class(Nil T or List T)
List T = Class {head = T; rest = Cons T}
    push|U <: T|(self, x: U): List T = Self. new {head = x; rest = self}
    upcast(self, U :> T): List U = self

Change specification

The List T example is tricky, so let's go into a little more detail. To understand the code above, you need to know about polymorphic type degeneration. Variance is discussed in detail in this section, but for now we need three facts:

  • Ordinary polymorphic types, such as List T, are covariant with T (List U > List T when U > T)
  • The function T -> U is contravariant with respect to the argument type T ((S -> U) < (T -> U) when S > T)
  • Function T -> U is covariant with return type U ((T -> U) > (T -> S) when U > S)

For example, List Int can be upcast to List Object and Obj -> Obj can be upcast to Int -> Obj.

Now let's consider what happens if we omit the variable specification of the method.

List T = Class {head = T; rest = Cons T}
    # List T can be pushed U if T > U
    push|U|(self, x: U): List T = Self. new {head = x; rest = self}
    # List T can be List U if T < U
    upcast(self, U): List U = self

Even in this case, the Erg compiler does a good job of inferring the upper and lower types of U. Note, however, that the Erg compiler doesn't understand the semantics of methods. The compiler simply infers and derives type relationships mechanically according to how variables and type variables are used.

As written in the comments, the type U put in the head of List T is a subclass of T (T: Int, such as Nat). That is, it is inferred as U <: T. This constraint changes the argument type of .push{U} upcast (List(T), U) -> List(T) to (List(T), T) -> List(T)( e.g. disallow List(Int).push{Object}). Note, however, that the U <: T constraint does not alter the type containment of the function. The fact that (List(Int), Object) -> List(Int) to (List(Int), Int) -> List(Int) does not change, just in .push method It means that the cast cannot be performed. Similarly, a cast from List T to List U is possible subject to the constraint U :> T, so the variation specification is inferred. This constraint changes the return type of .upcast(U) to upcast List(T) -> List(T) to List(T) -> List(T) (e.g. List(Object) .upcast(Int)) is prohibited.

Now let's see what happens if we allow this upcast. Let's invert the denaturation designation.

List T = Class {head = T; rest = Cons T}
    push|U :> T|(self, x: U): List T = Self. new {head = x; rest = self}
    upcast(self, U :> T): List U = self
# TypeWarning: `U` in the `.push` cannot take anything other than `U == T`. Replace `U` with `T`.
# TypeWarning: `U` in the `.upcast` cannot take anything other than `U == T`. Replace `U` with `T`.

Both the constraint U <: T and the modification specification U :> T are satisfied only when U == T. So this designation doesn't make much sense. Only "upcasts such that U == T" = "upcasts that do not change where U" are actually allowed.

Appendix: Modification of user-defined types

Mutations of user-defined types are immutable by default. However, you can also specify mutability with the Inputs/Outputs marker trait. If you specify Inputs(T), the type is contravariant with respect to T. If you specify Outputs(T), the type is covariant with respect to T.

K T = Class(...)
assert not K(Str) <= K(Object)
assert not K(Str) >= K(Object)

InputStream T = Class ..., Impl := Inputs(T)
# A stream that accepts Objects can also be considered to accept Strs
assert InputStream(Str) > InputStream(Object)

OutputStream T = Class ..., Impl := Outputs(T)
# A stream that outputs a Str can also be considered to output an Object
assert OutputStream(Str) < OutputStream(Object)