Resources for Advanced Module Usage


Hi there,

does anybody have links/tutorials etc. for usage of modules?
I have read the lightweight higher kinded types paper and I am searching for other resources in that direction.


ciao robertj


You can have a look on the paper ML module mania which present a type safe, separetly compiled and extensible interpreter for the Lua language. In the same spirit, you have the work of Oleg Kiselyov on tagless-final embedded DSL. Or from the same author than the paper on ligthweight higher-kinded types, you have their proposal for modular implicit which go further.

About the last paper, imagine that you want to write a function show that works on mutliple data types but not uniformly. In a lot of languages, this is done with dynamic dispatching. Since OCaml doesn’t have runtime type representation, we have to rely on something which is closed to a static dispatching, and we can do this with first-class modules.

module type Showable = sig
  type t
  val show : t -> string

let show (type a) (module M : Showable with type t = a) x = x

Now you can define a module for each type that you want to convert to a string, and you have to explicitly pass it to your fonction show.

module Int_show = struct
  type t = int
  let show = string_of_int

module Float_show = struct
  type t = float
  let show = string_of_float

# show (module Int_show) 3;;
- : string = "3"

# show (module Float_show) 3.4;;
- : string = "3.4"

The idea behind modular implicit is that in this situation, the module to use to show your value is automatically infered by the compiler in such a way that you don’t have to explicitly pass it to your function. This will be very useful, especially when the module in question is the result of a functor application. Indeed, imagine that you know how to show values of two types a and b, then you know how to show a pair of type a * b. To encode this you have to write a functor:

module Pair_show (A : Showable) (B : Showable):
Showable with type t = A.t * B.t = struct
  type t = A.t * B.t
  let show (x,y) = Printf.sprintf "(%s, %s)" ( x) ( y)

# show (module Pair_show (Int_show) (Float_show)) (1, 2.5);;                                                              
- : string = "(1, 2.5)"


This looks really interesting - do you know if the complete source code is available anywhere?

Many thanks,



It’s here.


The Modules section is a prerequisite must read. All advance papers more or less are based on these papers. The F-ing modules paper is a very interesting read, albeit being a little bit fictional. I also found this thesis to be an interesting compilation, although it is focusing more on SML.