Patterns as Objects in Grace


Object orientation and pattern matching are often seen as conflicting approaches to program design. Object-oriented programs place type-dependent behavior inside objects and invoke it via dynamic dispatch, while pattern-matching programs place type-dependent behavior outside data structures and invoke it via multiway conditionals (case statements). Grace is a new, dynamic, object-oriented language designed to support teaching: to this end, Grace needs to support both styles. We explain how this conflict can be resolved grace- fully: by modelling patterns and cases as partial functions, reifying those functions as objects, and then building up complex patterns from simpler ones using pattern combinators. We describe the implementation of this design as an object-oriented framework, and a case study of its effectiveness.


Michael Homer, James Noble, Kim B. Bruce, Andrew P. Black, and David J. Pearce

Published in

Dynamic Language Symposium (DLS), 2012

Author copy: download

Michael Homer — 2015