Implicit Function Types - More Details


Type ::= ... | FunArgTypes ‘=>’ Typee FunArgTypes ::= InfixType | ‘(’ [ ‘[given]’ FunArgType {‘,’ FunArgType } ] ‘)’ | ‘(’ ‘[given]’ TypedFunParam {‘,’ TypedFunParam } ‘)’ Bindings ::= ‘(’ [[‘given’] Binding {‘,’ Binding}] ‘)’

Implicit function types associate to the right, e.g. (given S) => (given T) => U is the same as (given S) => ((given T) => U).


Implicit function types are shorthands for class types that define apply methods with implicit parameters. Specifically, the N-ary function type T1, ..., TN => R is a shorthand for the class type ImplicitFunctionN[T1 , ... , TN, R]. Such class types are assumed to have the following definitions, for any value of N >= 1:

package scala
trait ImplicitFunctionN[-T1 , ... , -TN, +R] {
  def apply(given x1: T1 , ... , xN: TN): R

Implicit function types erase to normal function types, so these classes are generated on the fly for typechecking, but not realized in actual code.

Implicit function literals (given x1: T1, ..., xn: Tn) => e map implicit parameters xi of types Ti to the result of evaluating the expression e. The scope of each implicit parameter xi is e. The parameters must have pairwise distinct names.

If the expected type of the implicit function literal is of the form scala.ImplicitFunctionN[S1, ..., Sn, R], the expected type of e is R and the type Ti of any of the parameters xi can be omitted, in which case Ti = Si is assumed. If the expected type of the implicit function literal is some other type, all implicit parameter types must be explicitly given, and the expected type of e is undefined. The type of the implicit function literal is scala.ImplicitFunctionN[S1, ...,Sn, T], where T is the widened type of e. T must be equivalent to a type which does not refer to any of the implicit parameters xi.

The implicit function literal is evaluated as the instance creation expression

new scala.ImplicitFunctionN[T1, ..., Tn, T] {
  def apply(given x1: T1, ..., xn: Tn): T = e

An implicit parameter may also be a wildcard represented by an underscore _. In that case, a fresh name for the parameter is chosen arbitrarily.

Note: The closing paragraph of the Anonymous Functions section of Scala 2.12 is subsumed by implicit function types and should be removed.

Implicit function literals (given x1: T1, ..., xn: Tn) => e are automatically created for any expression e whose expected type is scala.ImplicitFunctionN[T1, ..., Tn, R], unless e is itself a implicit function literal. This is analogous to the automatic insertion of scala.Function0 around expressions in by-name argument position.

Implicit function types generalize to N > 22 in the same way that function types do, see the corresponding documentation.


See the section on Expressiveness from Simplicitly: foundations and applications of implicit function types.

Type Checking

After desugaring no additional typing rules are required for implicit function types.