Functional Programming with Overloading and Higher-Order Polymorphism

Functional Programming with Overloading and Higher-Order Polymorphism

Mark P. Jones, In First International Spring School on Advanced Functional Programming Techniques, B{\aa}stad, Sweden, Springer-Verlag Lecture Notes in Computer Science 925, May 1995.


The Hindley/Milner type system has been widely adopted as a basis for statically typed functional languages. One of the main reasons for this is that it provides an elegant compromise between flexibility, allowing a single value to be used in different ways, and practicality, freeing the programmer from the need to supply explicit type information.

Focusing on practical applications rather than implementation or theoretical details, these notes examine a range of extensions that provide more flexible type systems while retaining many of the properties that have made the original Hindley/Milner system so popular. The topics discussed, some old, but most quite recent, include higher-order polymorphism and type and constructor class overloading. Particular emphasis is placed on the use of these features to promote modularity and reusability.

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