Dotty Documentation


Algebraic Data Types

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The enum concept is general enough to also support algebraic data types (ADTs) and their generalized version (GADTs). Here's an example how an Option type can be represented as an ADT:

enum Option[+T] {
  case Some[+T](x: T)
  case None

This example introduces Option enum class with a covariant type parameter T, together with two cases, Some and None. Some is parameterized with a type parameter T and a value parameter x. It is a shorthand for writing a case class that extends Option. Since None is not parameterized it is treated as a normal enum value.

The extends clauses that were omitted in the example above can also be given explicitly:

enum Option[+T] {
  case Some[+T](x: T) extends Option[T]
  case None           extends Option[Nothing]

Note that the parent type of None is inferred as Option[Nothing]. Generally, all covariant type parameters of the enum class are minimized in a compiler-generated extends clause whereas all contravariant type parameters are maximized. If Option was non-variant, you'd need to give the extends clause of None explicitly.

As for normal enum values, the cases of an enum are all defined in the enums companion object. So it's Option.Some and Option.None unless the definitions are "pulled out" with an import:

scala> Option.Some("hello")
val res1: t2.Option[String] = Some(hello)
scala> Option.None
val res2: t2.Option[Nothing] = None

Note that the type of the expressions above is always Option. That is, the implementation case classes are not visible in the result types of their apply methods. This is a subtle difference with respect to normal case classes. The classes making up the cases do exist, and can be unvealed by constructing them directly with a new.

scala> new Option.Some(2)
val res3: t2.Option.Some[Int] = Some(2)

As all other enums, ADTs can have methods on both the enum class and its companion object. For instance, here is Option again, with an isDefined method and an Option(...) constructor.

enum class Option[+T] {
   def isDefined: Boolean
object Option {
  def apply[T >: Null](x: T): Option[T] =
    if (x == null) None else Some(x)

  case Some[+T](x: T) {
     def isDefined = true
  case None {
     def isDefined = false

Enumerations and ADTs have been presented as two different concepts. But since they share the same syntactic construct, they can be seen simply as two ends of a spectrum and it is perfectly possible to construct hybrids. For instance, the code below gives an implementation of Color either with three enum values or with a parameterized case that takes an RGB value.

enum Color(val rgb: Int) {
  case Red   extends Color(0xFF0000)
  case Green extends Color(0x00FF00)
  case Blue  extends Color(0x0000FF)
  case Mix(mix: Int) extends Color(mix)

Syntax of Enums

Changes to the syntax fall in two categories: enum classes and cases inside enums. The changes are specified below as deltas with respect to the Scala syntax given here

  1. Enum definitions and enum classes are defined as follows:

    TmplDef ::=  `enum' `class’ ClassDef
             |   `enum' EnumDef
    EnumDef ::=  id ClassConstr [`extends' [ConstrApps]]
                 [nl] `{’ EnumCaseStat {semi EnumCaseStat} `}’
  2. Cases of enums are defined as follows:

    EnumCaseStat  ::=  {Annotation [nl]} {Modifier} EnumCase
    EnumCase      ::=  `case' (EnumClassDef | ObjectDef | ids)
    EnumClassDef  ::=  id [ClsTpeParamClause | ClsParamClause]
                       ClsParamClauses TemplateOpt
    TemplateStat  ::=  ... | EnumCaseStat


For more info, see Issue #1970.