# Koka: Programming with Row Polymorphic Effect Types

9 Jun 2014  ·  Daan Leijen ·

We propose a programming model where effects are treated in a disciplined way, and where the potential side-effects of a function are apparent in its type signature. The type and effect of expressions can also be inferred automatically, and we describe a polymorphic type inference system based on Hindley-Milner style inference. A novel feature is that we support polymorphic effects through row-polymorphism using duplicate labels. Moreover, we show that our effects are not just syntactic labels but have a deep semantic connection to the program. For example, if an expression can be typed without an exn effect, then it will never throw an unhandled exception. Similar to Haskell's runST we show how we can safely encapsulate stateful operations. Through the state effect, we can also safely combine state with let-polymorphism without needing either imperative type variables or a syntactic value restriction. Finally, our system is implemented fully in a new language called Koka and has been used successfully on various small to medium-sized sample programs ranging from a Markdown processor to a tier-splitted chat application. You can try out Koka live at www.rise4fun.com/koka/tutorial.

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