[Python-ideas] "Sum" Type hinting [was: Type hinting for path-related functions]

Guido van Rossum guido at python.org
Mon May 16 11:19:12 EDT 2016

On Mon, May 16, 2016 at 7:45 AM, Koos Zevenhoven <k7hoven at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Mon, May 16, 2016 at 4:57 AM, Guido van Rossum <guido at python.org>
> wrote:
> [...]
> > unions in Python are always tagged (since you can always introspect the
> object type).
> I suppose that is true at runtime, at least if the pairwise
> intersections of the "arguments" of the union are empty as they
> usually are. But for a static type checker, the "tag" for the Union
> may be missing (which is the thing I was worried about).

Have you thought about how a type checker works? *Of course* the tags are
"missing" for it. When it sees that an argument (e.g.) is a union it has to
type check the following code with the assumption that it can be any of
those types. (However certain flow control using isinstance() can refine
this knowledge, like the "if isinstance(...)" example I've given before;
also "assert isinstance(...)" has a similar effect.

When a type checker like mypy has a variable that it knows to be a str, and
this variable is passed to a function whose signature is (Union[str,
bytes]) -> Union[str, bytes], then the result has to be assumed to be the
given union, because such a signature does not guarantee that the return
type matches the input type. (E.g. if I had a function that turned bytes
into str and str into bytes, this could be its signature!)

For this reason, the type variable AnyStr exists, and the mechanism of
constrained TypeVars that makes AnyStr possible -- you can make your own
type variables with such behavior too.

> [...]
> > in Haskell as in PEP 484, Sum types and generics are pretty much
> orthogonal
> > concepts.
> Although the parametrization provided by generics make TypeVars more
> powerful for annotating functions that deal with the equivalent of sum
> types.

Yeah, it's not uncommon for two orthogonal features to combine into
something even more powerful like that. It's like Hydrogen plus Oxygen...

--Guido van Rossum (python.org/~guido)
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://mail.python.org/pipermail/python-ideas/attachments/20160516/edd291be/attachment.html>

More information about the Python-ideas mailing list