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Date: -- (:)
From: Jeremy Yallop <jeremy.yallop@e...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] Labelling trees
David Teller wrote:
 > I'm currently in the very first stages of writing down a prototype
 > implementation of a type checker. At the moment, I'm looking for "the
 > nicest" way of labelling my abstract syntax tree with type annotations
 > -- without corrupting the AST at all, if possible.

My favourite encoding of annotated ASTs uses recursive modules and
polymorphic variants.  Instead of supplying type parameters for the
annotations and open recursion you can tie the knot using a recursive
module and some `with'-constraints on the signature.  Closing the
recursion twice (with different constraints) gives you annotated and
unannotated trees.

Here's an example from an implementation of the core of SML.  There
are 7 mutually-recursive types and three annotation types.  I hope
it's clear enough how it'd scale up to a more complicated data
structure.  Also, there are some type definitions missing, but you
should be able to fill them in easily enough.

First, a module type definition, listing all of the types involved.
This will be used in lieu of the type parameters that you'd normally
use for encoding open recursion.

    module type ExpSig =
      type atexp
      type exprow
      type exp
      type valdec
      type match_
      type mrule
      type valbind
      type pat

Now the actual datatype definitions.  Notice that we use `T.t' instead
of 't' at each recursive point.  The type `pat' is a parameter
although it's not defined here because we'll want to use annotated and
unannotated patterns inside annotated and unannotated expressions.
The module component (T) here is analagous to a functor argument of a

    module type Exp =
      module T : ExpSig

      type atexp = [
        `scon     of scon
      | `vid      of vid
      | `record   of T.exprow option
      | `let_     of T.valdec * T.exp
      | `paren    of T.exp ]
      and exp = [
        `atexp    of T.atexp
      | `apply    of T.exp * T.atexp
      | `typed    of T.exp * ty
      | `fn       of T.match_ ]
      and mrule = T.pat * T.exp
      and valdec = [
        `val_     of tyvarseq * T.valbind
      | `local    of T.valdec * T.valdec
      | `empty
      | `valdecs  of T.valdec * T.valdec ]
      and valbind = [
        `bindings of (T.pat * T.exp * T.valbind option)
      | `rec_     of T.valbind ]
      and match_ = [`match_ of T.mrule * T.match_ option]
      and exprow = [`exprow of (label * T.exp * T.exprow option)]
      type pat = T.pat

Finally, we tie the knot, first directly (to obtain unannotated

    module rec UntypedExp : ExpSig
      with type atexp   = UntypedExp'.atexp
       and type exprow  = UntypedExp'.exprow
       and type exp     = UntypedExp'.exp
       and type match_  = UntypedExp'.match_
       and type mrule   = UntypedExp'.mrule
       and type valdec  = UntypedExp'.valdec
       and type valbind = UntypedExp'.valbind
       and type pat     = UntypedPat.pat
    = UntypedExp
    and UntypedExp' : Exp with module T = UntypedExp = UntypedExp'

and then adding annotations for each node type

    module rec TypedExp : ExpSig
      with type atexp   = TypedExp'.atexp   * type_
       and type exprow  = TypedExp'.exprow  * rowtype
       and type exp     = TypedExp'.exp     * type_
       and type valdec  = TypedExp'.valdec  * valenv
       and type match_  = TypedExp'.match_  * type_
       and type mrule   = TypedExp'.mrule   * type_
       and type valbind = TypedExp'.valbind * valenv
       and type pat     = TypedPat.pat
    = TypedExp
    and TypedExp' : Exp with module T = TypedExp = TypedExp'

Using modules to collect the definitions together has various other
advantages; for example, it's easy(ish) to write an evaluator that
works for both annotated and unannotated expressions using functors.

Hope this helps,