Given Instances

Given instances (or, simply, "givens") define "canonical" values of certain types that serve for synthesizing arguments to given clauses. 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

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

given listOrd[T]: (ord: Ord[T]) => 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 compare(xs1, ys1)

This code defines a trait Ord with two given instances. intOrd defines a given for the type Ord[Int] whereas listOrd[T] defines givens for Ord[List[T]] for all types T that come with a given instance for Ord[T] themselves. The (ord: Ord[T]) => clause in listOrd defines a condition: There must be a given instance of type Ord[T] so that a given instance of type List[Ord[T]] can be synthesized. Such conditions are expanded by the compiler to implicit parameters, which are explained in the next section.

Anonymous Given Instances

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

given Ord[Int] { ... }
given [T]: Ord[T] => Ord[List[T]] { ... }

If the name of a given is missing, the compiler will synthesize a name from the implemented type(s).

Alias Givens

An alias can be used to define a given instance that is equal to some expression. E.g.:

given global: ExecutionContext = new ForkJoinPool()

This creates a given global of type ExecutionContext that resolves to the right hand side new ForkJoinPool(). The first time global is accessed, a new ForkJoinPool is created, which is then returned for this and all subsequent accesses to global.

Alias givens can be anonymous, e.g.

given Position = enclosingTree.position
given (outer: Context) => Context = outer.withOwner(currentOwner)

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

Given Instance Initialization

A given instance without type parameters or given clause is initialized on-demand, the first time it is accessed. If a given definition has type parameters or a given clause, a fresh instance is created for each reference.


Here is the new syntax of given instances, seen as a delta from the standard context free syntax of Scala 3.

TmplDef          ::=  ...
                  |   ‘given’ GivenDef
GivenDef         ::=  [GivenSig (‘:’ | <:)] Type ‘=’ Expr
                  |   [GivenSig ‘:’] [ConstrApp {‘,’ ConstrApp }] [TemplateBody]
GivenSig         ::=  [id] [DefTypeParamClause] {GivenParamClause}
GivenParamClause ::=  ‘(’ ‘given’ (DefParams | GivenTypes) ‘)’
GivenTypes       ::=  Type {‘,’ Type}

The identifier id can be omitted only if some types are implemented or the template body defines at least one extension method.