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Named Tuples

The elements of a tuple can now be named. Example:

type Person = (name: String, age: Int)
val Bob: Person = (name = "Bob", age = 33)

Bob match
  case (name, age) =>
    println(s"$name is $age years old")

val persons: List[Person] = ...
val minors = persons.filter: p =>
  p.age < 18

Named bindings in tuples are similar to function parameters and arguments. We use name: Type for element types and name = value for element values. It is illegal to mix named and unnamed elements in a tuple, or to use the same same name for two different elements.

Fields of named tuples can be selected by their name, as in the line p.age < 18 above.

Conformance and Convertibility

The order of names in a named tuple matters. For instance, the type Person above and the type (age: Int, name: String) would be different, incompatible types.

Values of named tuple types can also be be defined using regular tuples. For instance:

val Laura: Person = ("Laura", 25)

def register(person: Person) = ...
register(person = ("Silvain", 16))
register(("Silvain", 16))

This follows since a regular tuple (T_1, ..., T_n) is treated as a subtype of a named tuple (N_1 = T_1, ..., N_n = T_n) with the same element types.

In the other direction, one can convert a named tuple to an unnamed tuple with the toTuple method. Example:

val x: (String, Int) = Bob.toTuple // ok

toTuple is defined as an extension method in the NamedTuple object. It returns the given tuple unchanged and simply "forgets" the names.

A .toTuple selection is inserted implicitly by the compiler if it encounters a named tuple but the expected type is a regular tuple. So the following works as well:

val x: (String, Int) = Bob  // works, expanded to Bob.toTuple

The difference between subtyping in one direction and automatic .toTuple conversions in the other is relatively minor. The main difference is that .toTuple conversions don't work inside type constructors. So the following is OK:

val names = List("Laura", "Silvain")
  val ages = List(25, 16)
  val persons: List[Person] = names.zip(ages)

But the following would be illegal.

val persons: List[Person] = List(Bob, Laura)
  val pairs: List[(String, Int)] = persons // error

We would need an explicit _.toTuple selection to express this:

val pairs: List[(String, Int)] = persons.map(_.toTuple)

Note that conformance rules for named tuples are analogous to the rules for named parameters. One can assign parameters by position to a named parameter list.

def f(param: Int) = ...
  f(param = 1)   // OK
  f(2)           // Also OK

But one cannot use a name to pass an argument to an unnamed parameter:

val f: Int => T
    f(2)         // OK
    f(param = 2) // Not OK

The rules for tuples are analogous. Unnamed tuples conform to named tuple types, but the opposite requires a conversion.

Pattern Matching

When pattern matching on a named tuple, the pattern may be named or unnamed. If the pattern is named it needs to mention only a subset of the tuple names, and these names can come in any order. So the following are all OK:

Bob match
  case (name, age) => ...

Bob match
  case (name = x, age = y) => ...

Bob match
  case (age = x) => ...

Bob match
  case (age = x, name = y) => ...


Named tuples are in essence just a convenient syntax for regular tuples. In the internal representation, a named tuple type is represented at compile time as a pair of two tuples. One tuple contains the names as literal constant string types, the other contains the element types. The runtime representation of a named tuples consists of just the element values, whereas the names are forgotten. This is achieved by declaring NamedTuple in package scala as an opaque type as follows:

opaque type NamedTuple[N <: Tuple, +V <: Tuple] >: V = V

For instance, the Person type would be represented as the type

NamedTuple[("name", "age"), (String, Int)]

NamedTuple is an opaque type alias of its second, value parameter. The first parameter is a string constant type which determines the name of the element. Since the type is just an alias of its value part, names are erased at runtime, and named tuples and regular tuples have the same representation.

A NamedTuple[N, V] type is publicly known to be a supertype (but not a subtype) of its value paramater V, which means that regular tuples can be assigned to named tuples but not vice versa.

The NamedTuple object contains a number of extension methods for named tuples hat mirror the same functions in Tuple. Examples are apply, head, tail, take, drop, ++, map, or zip. Similar to Tuple, the NamedTuple object also contains types such as Elem, Head, Concat that describe the results of these extension methods.

The translation of named tuples to instances of NamedTuple is fixed by the specification and therefore known to the programmer. This means that:

  • All tuple operations also work with named tuples "out of the box".
  • Macro libraries can rely on this expansion.

The NamedTuple.From Type

The NamedTuple object contains a type definition

type From[T] <: AnyNamedTuple

From is treated specially by the compiler. When NamedTuple.From is applied to an argument type that is an instance of a case class, the type expands to the named tuple consisting of all the fields of that case class. Here, fields means: elements of the first parameter section. For instance, assuming

case class City(zip: Int, name: String, population: Int)

then NamedTuple.From[City] is the named tuple

(zip: Int, name: String, population: Int)

The same works for enum cases expanding to case classes, abstract types with case classes as upper bound, alias types expanding to case classes and singleton types with case classes as underlying type.

From is also defined on named tuples. If NT is a named tuple type, then From[NT] = NT.


The following restrictions apply to named tuple elements:

  1. Either all elements of a tuple are named or none are named. It is illegal to mix named and unnamed elements in a tuple. For instance, the following is in error:
    val illFormed1 = ("Bob", age = 33)  // error
  2. Each element name in a named tuple must be unique. For instance, the following is in error:
    val illFormed2 = (name = "", age = 0, name = true)  // error
  3. Named tuples can be matched with either named or regular patterns. But regular tuples and other selector types can only be matched with regular tuple patterns. For instance, the following is in error:
    (tuple: Tuple) match
        case (age = x) => // error
  4. Regular selector names _1, _2, ... are not allowed as names in named tuples.


The syntax of Scala is extended as follows to support named tuples:

SimpleType        ::=  ...
                    |  ‘(’ NameAndType {‘,’ NameAndType} ‘)’
NameAndType       ::=  id ':' Type

SimpleExpr        ::=  ...
                    |  '(' NamedExprInParens {‘,’ NamedExprInParens} ')'
NamedExprInParens ::=  id '=' ExprInParens

Patterns          ::=  Pattern {‘,’ Pattern}
                    |  NamedPattern {‘,’ NamedPattern}
NamedPattern      ::=  id '=' Pattern

Named Pattern Matching

We allow named patterns not just for named tuples but also for case classes. For instance:

city match
  case c @ City(name = "London") => println(p.population)
  case City(name = n, zip = 1026, population = pop) => println(pop)

Named constructor patterns are analogous to named tuple patterns. In both cases

  • either all fields are named or none is,
  • every name must match the name some field of the selector,
  • names can come in any order,
  • not all fields of the selector need to be matched.

This revives SIP 43, with a much simpler desugaring than originally proposed. Named patterns are compatible with extensible pattern matching simply because unapply results can be named tuples.

Source Incompatibilities

There are some source incompatibilities involving named tuples of length one. First, what was previously classified as an assignment could now be interpreted as a named tuple. Example:

var age: Int
(age = 1)

This was an assignment in parentheses before, and is a named tuple of arity one now. It is however not idiomatic Scala code, since assignments are not usually enclosed in parentheses.

Second, what was a named argument to an infix operator can now be interpreted as a named tuple.

class C:
  infix def f(age: Int)
val c: C


c f (age = 1)

will now construct a tuple as second operand instead of passing a named parameter.

Computed Field Names

The Selectable trait now has a Fields type member that can be instantiated to a named tuple.

trait Selectable:
  type Fields <: NamedTuple.AnyNamedTuple

If Fields is instantiated in a subclass of Selectable to some named tuple type, then the available fields and their types will be defined by that type. Assume n: T is an element of the Fields type in some class C that implements Selectable, that c: C, and that n is not otherwise legal as a name of a selection on c. Then c.n is a legal selection, which expands to c.selectDynamic("n").asInstanceOf[T].

It is the task of the implementation of selectDynamic in C to ensure that its computed result conforms to the predicted type T

As an example, assume we have a query type Q[T] defined as follows:

trait Q[T] extends Selectable:
  type Fields = NamedTuple.Map[NamedTuple.From[T], Q]
  def selectDynamic(fieldName: String) = ...

Assume in the user domain:

case class City(zipCode: Int, name: String, population: Int)
val city: Q[City]



has type Q[Int] and it expands to