Extensible programming with first-class cases
We present language mechanisms for polymorphic, extensible records and their exact dual, polymorphic sums with extensible first-class cases. These features make it possible to easily extend existing code with new cases. In fact, such extensions do not require any changes to code that adheres to a particular programming style. Using that style, individual extensions can be written independently and later be composed to form larger components. These language mechanisms provide a solution to the expression problem.We study the proposed mechanisms in the context of an implicitly typed, purely functional language PolyR. We give a type system for the language and provide rules for a 2-phase transformation: first into an explicitly typed λ-calculus with record polymorphism, and finally to efficient index-passing code. The first phase eliminates sums and cases by taking advantage of the duality with records.We implement a version of PolyR extended with imperative features and pattern matching - we call this language MLPolyR . Programs in MLPolyR require no type annotations - the implementation employs a reconstruction algorithm to infer all types. The compiler generates machine code (currently for PowerPC) and optimizes the representation of sums by eliminating closures generated by the dual construction.