[swift-evolution] [Proposal] Associated Type and Generic One-to-One Mapping

Xiaodi Wu xiaodi.wu at gmail.com
Fri Jun 23 17:52:28 CDT 2017

There could be source-breaking implications for such a feature, especially
with retroactive conformance. Therefore, I think this could be very tricky
and I'd want to be convinced that the benefits are very great to risk such
a disturbance. Here, I think the problem is rather mild, and here's why:

It is true that, in your example specifically, renaming T to U is the only
solution (that I know of, anyway). However, for any "serious" protocol P,
there's likely to be a required property of type P.T, or a function that
takes an argument of type P.T or returns a value of type P.T. Therefore,
implementing that requirement in Bar with a corresponding
property/argument/return value of type Bar.T would generally do the trick.

Have you got any real-world examples where you're running into this issue?

On Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 17:03 David Moore via swift-evolution <
swift-evolution at swift.org> wrote:

> Hello Swift Evolution,
> This may have already been discussed before, but I just came across a
> bothersome language aspect which reminded me to propose a solution.
> Currently, if we want to add generics to a protocol the only way to do so
> is with associated types. I am quite fine with the current approach with
> respect to those semantics.
> There is, however, a weakness that is built in with using associated
> types. That weakness is the lack of associated type and generic inference.
> To be more clear about what I mean, take the following as an example.
> protocol Foo {
>     associatedtype T
> }
> The foregoing protocol is quite basic, but uses an associated type with
> the name “T.” Giving the associated type that name will illustrate the
> dilemma encountered later on down the pipeline.
> struct Bar<T> : Foo {
>     // What am I supposed to do? The name is used for both the generic and
> the type alias Foo needs for conformance.
>     typealias T = T // Error!
> }
> The above illustrates a situation where we want to connect the generic,
> which is supposedly named appropriately, and the protocol’s associated
> type. There is no elegant solution for this at the moment. All I could do
> is the following.
> struct Bar<U> : Foo {
>     typealias T = U // Not nearly as readable.
> }
> Now, there may be a few ways to go about adding support for generic
> inference. The compiler as it is already does some awesome inference get
> when it comes to generics, so why not take it a step further? I propose the
> introduction of a keyword, or anything else that could work, to specify
> explicitly what a given type alias declaration would do when it comes to
> inferencing. Requiring a keyword would ensure source compatibility remains
> intact, and it would also make the code more readable.
> I don’t know if this would be something that people could find useful, but
> I surely would. The implicit mapping of an associated type and a given
> generic by their names, would be a natural development.
> Let me know if this is just useless, or if could be a potential feature.
> Thank you,
> David Moore
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> swift-evolution at swift.org
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