Normally, constraints (which appear in types to the left of the
=> arrow) have a very restricted syntax. They can only be:
Class constraints, e.g.
Implicit parameter constraints,
?x::Int (with the
a ~ Int (with the
-XConstraintKinds flag, GHC becomes more liberal in
what it accepts as constraints in your program. To be precise, with this flag any
type of the new kind
Constraint can be used as a constraint.
The following things have kind
Constraint. So for example the type
(Show a, Ord a)is of kind
Constraint(for which they need to import it from
GHC.Exts). So for example
type Foo (f :: * -> Constraint) = forall b. f b => b -> bis allowed, as well as examples involving type families:
type family Typ a b :: Constraint type instance Typ Int b = Show b type instance Typ Bool b = Num b func :: Typ a b => a -> b -> b func = ...
Note that because constraints are just handled as types of a particular kind, this extension allows type constraint synonyms:
type Stringy a = (Read a, Show a) foo :: Stringy a => a -> (String, String -> a) foo x = (show x, read)
Presently, only standard constraints, tuples and type synonyms for those two sorts of constraint are permitted in instance contexts and superclasses (without extra flags). The reason is that permitting more general constraints can cause type checking to loop, as it would with these two programs:
type family Clsish u a type instance Clsish () a = Cls a class Clsish () a => Cls a where
class OkCls a where type family OkClsish u a type instance OkClsish () a = OkCls a instance OkClsish () a => OkCls a where
You may write programs that use exotic sorts of constraints in instance contexts and superclasses, but
to do so you must use
-XUndecidableInstances to signal that you don't mind if the type checker
fails to terminate.