# GHC/Type system

Type system extensions in GHC

GHC comes with a rather large collection of type-system extensions (beyond Haskell 98). They are all documented in the user manual, but this page is a place to record observations, notes, and suggestions on them.

## Contents

## Type signatures and ambiguity

It's quite common for people to write a function definition without a type signature, load it into GHCi, use `:t` to see what type it has, and then cut-and-paste that type into the source code as a type signature. Usually this works fine, but alas not always. Perhaps this is a deficiency in GHC, but here's one way it can happen:

```
class C a b where
foo :: a -> b
konst :: a -> Bool
konst x = True
f :: (C a b) => a -> Bool
f x = konst (foo x)
```

If you comment out the type signature `f :: (C a b) => a -> Bool`

, the module will load fine into GHCi, and `:t` will report exactly this type for `f`. But if you leave the type signature in, you'll get this error:

Foo1.hs:12:13: Could not deduce (C a b1) from the context (C a b) arising from use of `foo' at Foo1.hs:12:13-17 Possible fix: add (C a b1) to the type signature(s) for `f' In the first argument of `konst', namely `(foo x)' In the expression: konst (foo x) In the definition of `f': f x = konst (foo x)

What's going on? Without the type signature, GHC picks a type for `x`, say `x::a`. Then applying `foo` means GHC must pick a return type for `foo`, say `b`, and generates the type constraint `(C a b)`. The function `konst` just discards its argument, so nothing further is known abouut `b`. So GHC ends up saying that `f :: (C a b) => a -> Bool`

.

This is probably a very stupid type. Suppose you called `f` thus: `(f 'a')`. Then you'd get a constraint `(C Char b)` where nothing is known about `b`. That would be OK if there was an instance like:

```
instance C Char b where ...
```

## Overlapping instances

Here an interesting message about the interaction of existential types and overlapping instances.

## Indexed data types and indexed newtypes

Indexed data types (including associated data types) are a very recent addition to GHC's type system extensions that is not yet included in the user manual. To use the extension, you need to obtain a version of GHC from its source repository.

## Stand-alone deriving clauses

Bjorn Bringert has recently implemented "stand-alone deriving" declarations.