Polymorphic Function Values

Polymorphic function values

Ordinary Scala function values are monomorphic. shapeless, however, provides an encoding of polymorphic function values. It supports natural transformations, which are familiar from libraries like Scalaz

choose is a function from Seqs to Options with no type specific cases

object choose extends (Seq ~> Option) {
  def apply[T](s: Seq[T]) = s.headOption
choose(Seq(1, 2, 3)) should be(res0)
choose(Seq('a', 'b', 'c')) should be(res1)

Being polymorphic, they may be passed as arguments to functions or methods and then applied to values of different types within those functions

def pairApply(f: Seq ~> Option) = (f(Seq(1, 2, 3)), f(Seq('a', 'b', 'c')))

pairApply(choose) should be((res0, res1))

They are nevertheless interoperable with ordinary monomorphic function values. choose is convertible to an ordinary monomorphic function value and can be mapped across an ordinary Scala List

(List(Seq(1, 3, 5), Seq(2, 4, 6)) map choose) should be(List(res0, res1))

However, they are more general than natural transformations and are able to capture type-specific cases which, as we'll see below, makes them ideal for generic programming, size is a function from Ints or Strings or pairs to a size defined by type specific cases

object size extends Poly1 {
  implicit def caseInt = at[Int](x => 1)
  implicit def caseString = at[String](_.length)
  implicit def caseTuple[T, U](implicit st: Case.Aux[T, Int], su: Case.Aux[U, Int]) =
    at[(T, U)](t => size(t._1) + size(t._2))

size(23) should be(res0)
size("foo") should be(res1)
size((23, "foo")) should be(res2)
size(((23, "foo"), 13)) should be(res3)