dinosaure's Blog

Functor, Application and magick!

<2020-02-17>

While I try to make an SMTP server in OCaml as an unikernel, I tried to deal with Set.Make. Imagine a situation where you define your type elt = string into a module A and you want to apply Set.Make inside the given module.

Interface

Then, you would like to write a proper interface which describe result of your functor. It should be easy than:

type elt = string

include Set.S with type elt = elt

But in my example, Set.S wants to (re)define elt. You probably miss the destructive substitution of the type elt.

type elt = string

include Set.S with type elt := elt

Implementation

The implementation will be more trickier. Indeed, we probably want to do something like this:

include Set.Make(struct type t = string let compare = String.compare end)

And, fortunately for you, this snippet should work. However, it starts to be pretty incomprehensible when type elt is one of your type (string or String.t exists outside the scope of your module). We can take this example:

include Set.Make(struct
  type t = { v : string }
  let compare { v= a; } { v= b; } = String.compare a b
end)

Into the interface, by side the redefinition of the type elt, nothing should change. However, the compilation fails with:

$ ocamlc -c a.ml
Error: The implementation a.ml does not match the interface a.cmi:
       Type declarations do not match:
         type elt
       is not included in
         type elt = { v : string; }

Indeed, we should have a definition of elt outside the struct ... end:

type elt = { v : string }

include Set.Make(struct
  type t = elt
  let compare { v= a; } { v= b; } = String.compare a b
end)

However, now, OCaml complains about a multiple definition of the type elt. May be we can play more with the destructive substitution?

type elt = { v : string }

include
  (Set.Make(struct
     type t = elt
     let compare { v= a; } { v= b; } = String.compare a b
   end)
   : Set.S with type elt := elt)

Just a tip

And it's work! So I leave this trick here to help some people.

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