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spec: semantics of recursive interfaces are unspecified #8691

adonovan opened this issue Sep 10, 2014 · 2 comments

spec: semantics of recursive interfaces are unspecified #8691

adonovan opened this issue Sep 10, 2014 · 2 comments


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@adonovan adonovan commented Sep 10, 2014

I can't find any wording in the spec that would explain the legality or otherwise of
this program.  The question is whether isomorphic recursive interfaces are identical and
thus mutually assignable.   My intuition about interfaces would suggest that these types
ought to be identical.

package main 

type I interface {
    f() I
type J interface {
    f() J

func main() {
    var i I
    var j J
    i = j
    j = i

gc and go/types both give an error.

prog.go:13: cannot use j (type J) as type I in assignment:
    J does not implement I (wrong type for f method)
        have f() J
        want f() I
prog.go:14: cannot use i (type I) as type J in assignment:
    I does not implement J (wrong type for f method)
        have f() I
        want f() J

a.go:13:6: cannot assign j (variable of type J) to i (variable of type I)
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@griesemer griesemer commented Sep 10, 2014

Comment 1:

This is consequence from the spec's assignability rules even it's perhaps not obvious. I
don't think it requires further clarification in the spec (it's too special a case, and
the compiler's error message explains the problem very well).
The interfaces are not assignable because they are different since the method signatures
are not identical: The result type of I.f is I, while the result type of J.f is J. I and
J are named types and they are different.
Or in other words, when comparing function types, type identify rules apply, not
assignment rules.
The following program compiles fine:
gc provides a clear error message explaining the problem. go/types can do this as well
(I think there's a TODO somewhere).
One might argue that for interface identity (involved here when comparing function
result types), perhaps different rules should apply. But until this situation becomes a
real problem, I think we should stick with the rules we have (I can understand that the
situation may occur, but it's probably a rare case).

Labels changed: added repo-main, documentation.

Status changed to WorkingAsIntended.


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Contributor Author

@adonovan adonovan commented Sep 10, 2014

Comment 2:

I see.  Thanks for clarifying.
This example makes things more obvious (to me):


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3 participants