Dotty Documentation


Implicit By-Name Parameters

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Call-by-name implicit parameters can be used to avoid a divergent implicit expansion.

trait Codec[T] {
  def write(x: T): Unit

implicit def intCodec: Codec[Int] = ???

implicit def optionCodec[T]
    (implicit ev: => Codec[T]): Codec[Option[T]] =
  new {
    def write(xo: Option[T]) = xo match {
      case Some(x) => ev.write(x)
      case None =>

val s = implicitly[Codec[Option[Int]]]


As is the case for a normal by-name parameter, the argument for the implicit parameter ev is evaluated on demand. In the example above, if the option value x is None, it is not evaluated at all.

The synthesized argument for an implicit parameter is backed by a lazy val if this is necessary to prevent an otherwise diverging expansion.

The precise steps for constructing an implicit argument for a by-name parameter of type => T are as follows.

  1. Create a new implicit value with a fresh name lv, which has the signature of the following definition:

    implicit lazy val lv: T

    The current implementation uses the prefix $lazy_implicit$ followed by a unique integer for lv.

  2. This lazy val is not immediately available as candidate for implicit search (making it immediately available would result in a looping implicit computation). But it becomes available in all nested contexts that look again for an implicit argument to a by-name parameter.

  3. If this implicit search succeeds with expression E, and E contains references to the lazy implicit value lv, replace E by

    { implicit lazy val lv: T = E; lv }

    Otherwise, return E unchanged.

In the example above, the definition of s would be expanded as follows.

val s = implicitly[Test.Codec[Option[Int]]](

No lazy val was generated because the synthesized argument is not recursive.


For more info, see Issue #1998