Dotty Documentation


Implied Instances

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Implied instance definitions define "canonical" values of given types that serve for synthesizing arguments to inferable parameters. Example:

trait Ord[T] {
  def compare(x: T, y: T): Int
  def (x: T) < (y: T) = compare(x, y) < 0
  def (x: T) > (y: T) = compare(x, y) > 0

implied IntOrd for Ord[Int] {
  def compare(x: Int, y: Int) =
    if (x < y) -1 else if (x > y) +1 else 0

implied ListOrd[T] given (ord: Ord[T]) for Ord[List[T]] {
  def compare(xs: List[T], ys: List[T]): Int = (xs, ys) match {
    case (Nil, Nil) => 0
    case (Nil, _) => -1
    case (_, Nil) => +1
    case (x :: xs1, y :: ys1) =>
      val fst =, y)
      if (fst != 0) fst else xs1.compareTo(ys1)

This code defines a trait Ord and two implied instance definitions. IntOrd defines an implied instance for the type Ord[Int] whereas ListOrd[T] defines implied instances of Ord[List[T]] for all types T that come with an implied Ord[T] instance themselves. The given clause in ListOrd defines an inferable parameter. Inferable parameters are further explained in the next section.

Anonymous Implied Instances

The name of an implied instance can be left out. So the implied instance definitions of the last section can also be expressed like this:

implied for Ord[Int] { ... }
implied [T] given (ord: Ord[T]) for Ord[List[T]] { ... }

If the name of an instance is missing, the compiler will synthesize a name from the type(s) in the for clause.

Implied Alias Instances

An implied alias instance defines an implied instance that is equal to some expression. E.g., assuming a global method currentThreadPool returning a value with a member context, one could define:

implied ctx for ExecutionContext = currentThreadPool().context

This creates an implied instance ctx of type ExecutionContext that resolves to the right hand side currentThreadPool().context. Each time an implied instance of ExecutionContext is demanded, the result of evaluating the right-hand side expression is returned.

Alias instances may be anonymous, e.g.

implied for Position = enclosingTree.position

An implied alias instance can have type and context parameters just like any other implied instance definition, but it can only implement a single type.


Here is the new syntax of implied instance definitions, seen as a delta from the standard context free syntax of Scala 3.

TmplDef          ::=  ...
                  |  ‘implied’ InstanceDef
InstanceDef      ::=  [id] InstanceParams InstanceBody
InstanceParams   ::=  [DefTypeParamClause] {GivenParamClause}
GivenParamClause ::=  ‘given’ (‘(’ [DefParams] ‘)’ | GivenTypes)
InstanceBody     ::=  [‘for’ ConstrApp {‘,’ ConstrApp }] [TemplateBody]
                   |  ‘for’ Type ‘=’ Expr
GivenTypes       ::=  AnnotType {‘,’ AnnotType}

The identifier id can be omitted only if either the for part or the template body is present. If the for part is missing, the template body must define at least one extension method.