(Introduced in Objective Caml 3.07)
Recursive module definitions, introduced by the module rec …and … construction, generalize regular module definitions module module-name = module-expr and module specifications module module-name : module-type by allowing the defining module-expr and the module-type to refer recursively to the module identifiers being defined. A typical example of a recursive module definition is:
module rec A : sig type t = Leaf of string | Node of ASet.t val compare: t -> t -> int end = struct type t = Leaf of string | Node of ASet.t let compare t1 t2 = match (t1, t2) with | (Leaf s1, Leaf s2) -> Stdlib.compare s1 s2 | (Leaf _, Node _) -> 1 | (Node _, Leaf _) -> -1 | (Node n1, Node n2) -> ASet.compare n1 n2 end and ASet : Set.S with type elt = A.t = Set.Make(A)
It can be given the following specification:
module rec A : sig type t = Leaf of string | Node of ASet.t val compare: t -> t -> int end and ASet : Set.S with type elt = A.t
This is an experimental extension of OCaml: the class of recursive definitions accepted, as well as its dynamic semantics are not final and subject to change in future releases.
Currently, the compiler requires that all dependency cycles between the recursively-defined module identifiers go through at least one “safe” module. A module is “safe” if all value definitions that it contains have function types typexpr1 -> typexpr2. Evaluation of a recursive module definition proceeds by building initial values for the safe modules involved, binding all (functional) values to fun _ -> raise Undefined_recursive_module. The defining module expressions are then evaluated, and the initial values for the safe modules are replaced by the values thus computed. If a function component of a safe module is applied during this computation (which corresponds to an ill-founded recursive definition), the Undefined_recursive_module exception is raised at runtime:
module rec M: sig val f: unit -> int end = struct let f () = N.x end and N:sig val x: int end = struct let x = M.f () endException: Undefined_recursive_module ("exten.etex", 1, 43).
If there are no safe modules along a dependency cycle, an error is raised
module rec M: sig val x: int end = struct let x = N.y end and N:sig val x: int val y:int end = struct let x = M.x let y = 0 endError: Cannot safely evaluate the definition of the following cycle of recursively-defined modules: M -> N -> M. There are no safe modules in this cycle (see manual section 8.2). Module M defines an unsafe value, x . Module N defines an unsafe value, x .
Note that, in the specification case, the module-types must be parenthesized if they use the with mod-constraint construct.