Given Clauses

Functional programming tends to express most dependencies as simple function parameterization. This is clean and powerful, but it sometimes leads to functions that take many parameters and call trees where the same value is passed over and over again in long call chains to many functions. Given clauses can help here since they enable the compiler to synthesize repetitive arguments instead of the programmer having to write them explicitly.

For example, given the delegates defined previously, a maximum function that works for any arguments for which an ordering exists can be defined as follows:

``````def max[T](x: T, y: T) given (ord: Ord[T]): T =
if (ord.compare(x, y) < 1) y else x
``````

Here, `ord` is an implicit parameter introduced with a `given` clause. The `max` method can be applied as follows:

``````max(2, 3) given IntOrd
``````

The `given IntOrd` part passes `IntOrd` as an argument for the `ord` parameter. But the point of implicit parameters is that this argument can also be left out (and it usually is). So the following applications are equally valid:

``````max(2, 3)
max(List(1, 2, 3), Nil)
``````

Anonymous Given Clauses

In many situations, the name of an implicit parameter need not be mentioned explicitly at all, since it is used only in synthesized arguments for other implicit parameters. In that case one can avoid defining a parameter name and just provide its type. Example:

``````def maximum[T](xs: List[T]) given Ord[T]: T =
xs.reduceLeft(max)
``````

`maximum` takes an implicit parameter of type `Ord` only to pass it on as an inferred argument to `max`. The name of the parameter is left out.

Generally, implicit parameters may be defined either as a parameter list `(p_1: T_1, ..., p_n: T_n)` or as a sequence of types, separated by commas.

Inferring Complex Arguments

Here are two other methods that have an implicit parameter of type `Ord[T]`:

``````def descending[T] given (asc: Ord[T]): Ord[T] = new Ord[T] {
def compare(x: T, y: T) = asc.compare(y, x)
}

def minimum[T](xs: List[T]) given Ord[T] =
maximum(xs) given descending
``````

The `minimum` method's right hand side passes `descending` as an explicit argument to `maximum(xs)`. With this setup, the following calls are all well-formed, and they all normalize to the last one:

``````minimum(xs)
maximum(xs) given descending
maximum(xs) given (descending given ListOrd)
maximum(xs) given (descending given (ListOrd given IntOrd))
``````

Multiple Given Clauses

There can be several given clauses in a definition. Example:

``````def f given (u: Universe) given (x: u.Context) = ...
``````

However, all `given` clauses in a definition must come after any normal parameter clauses. Multiple given clauses are matched left-to-right in applications. Example:

``````delegate global for Universe { type Context = ... }
delegate ctx for global.Context { ... }
``````

Then the following calls are all valid (and normalize to the last one)

``````f
(f given global)
(f given global) given ctx
``````

But `f given ctx` would give a type error.

Summoning Delegates

A method `the` in `Predef` returns the delegate for a given type. For example, the delegate for `Ord[List[Int]]` is produced by

``````the[Ord[List[Int]]]  // reduces to ListOrd given IntOrd
``````

The `the` method is simply defined as the (non-widening) identity function over a implicit parameter.

``````def the[T] given (x: T): x.type = x
``````

Syntax

Here is the new syntax of parameters and arguments seen as a delta from the standard context free syntax of Scala 3.

``````ClsParamClauses     ::=  ...
|  {ClsParamClause} {GivenClsParamClause}
GivenClsParamClause ::=  ‘given’ (‘(’ ClsParams ‘)’ | GivenTypes)
DefParamClauses     ::=  ...
|  {DefParamClause} {GivenParamClause}
GivenParamClause    ::=  ‘given’ (‘(’ DefParams ‘)’ | GivenTypes)
GivenTypes          ::=  AnnotType {‘,’ AnnotType}

InfixExpr           ::=  ...
|  InfixExpr ‘given’ (InfixExpr | ParArgumentExprs)
``````