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3 points by rntz 5767 days ago | link | parent

Ideally, multimethod dispatch would be unified with pattern matching/destructuring. After all, pattern-matching (always?) implies the argument is of a given type. So functions would be "open pattern-matchers"; instead of just defining a function once, you keep adding patterns and their associated code. The problem is precedence: if multiple patterns match, which one do you use? If you want to integrate "inheritance" into this (given pg's views on OO, he probably doesn't), it gets even more complex.

The ideal solution, IMO, is that "implication means precedence". If we have patterns A and B, then if A(x) (if A matches pattern x; I'm treating patterns as predicates here) implies B(x) but not vice-versa, A has precedence over B. This is a superset of the traditional OO "inheritance" model; model types as predicates for membership in that type, and being a member of a subclass implies being a member of the superclass.

I have, of course, absolutely no clue how best to implement this. A minilanguage for pattern-matching predicates and the implications among them would be the simplest solution I can think of. The "right way" would probably involve integrating the type system into the language, along the lines of what Qi has done.

This "solution" is also not necessarily unambiguous. A(x) and B(x) may both match without any implication relationship. I suppose some sort of auxiliary specification, a la the C3 MRO (see http://www.python.org/download/releases/2.3/mro/) would be necessary.

However, the above sounds like something you'd want to build on top of an existing function system; otherwise you're certainly not following pg's ideal of an "axiomatic" approach to language design.