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Compile-time operations

The scala.compiletime Package

The scala.compiletime package contains helper definitions that provide support for compile-time operations over values. They are described in the following.

constValue and constValueOpt

constValue is a function that produces the constant value represented by a type, or a compile time error if the type is not a constant type.

import scala.compiletime.constValue
import scala.compiletime.ops.int.S

transparent inline def toIntC[N]: Int =
  inline constValue[N] match
    case 0        => 0
    case _: S[n1] => 1 + toIntC[n1]

inline val ctwo = toIntC[2]

constValueOpt is the same as constValue, however returning an Option[T] enabling us to handle situations where a value is not present. Note that S is the type of the successor of some singleton type. For example the type S[1] is the singleton type 2.

Since tuples are not constant types, even if their constituents are, there is constValueTuple, which given a tuple type (X1, ..., Xn), returns a tuple value (constValue[X1], ..., constValue[Xn]).


So far we have seen inline methods that take terms (tuples and integers) as parameters. What if we want to base case distinctions on types instead? For instance, one would like to be able to write a function defaultValue, that, given a type T, returns optionally the default value of T, if it exists. We can already express this using rewrite match expressions and a simple helper function, scala.compiletime.erasedValue, which is defined as follows:

def erasedValue[T]: T

The erasedValue function pretends to return a value of its type argument T. Calling this function will always result in a compile-time error unless the call is removed from the code while inlining.

Using erasedValue, we can then define defaultValue as follows:

import scala.compiletime.erasedValue

transparent inline def defaultValue[T] =
  inline erasedValue[T] match
    case _: Byte    => Some(0: Byte)
    case _: Char    => Some(0: Char)
    case _: Short   => Some(0: Short)
    case _: Int     => Some(0)
    case _: Long    => Some(0L)
    case _: Float   => Some(0.0f)
    case _: Double  => Some(0.0d)
    case _: Boolean => Some(false)
    case _: Unit    => Some(())
    case _          => None


val dInt: Some[Int] = defaultValue[Int]
val dDouble: Some[Double] = defaultValue[Double]
val dBoolean: Some[Boolean] = defaultValue[Boolean]
val dAny: None.type = defaultValue[Any]

As another example, consider the type-level version of toInt below: given a type representing a Peano number, return the integer value corresponding to it. Consider the definitions of numbers as in the Inline Match section above. Here is how toIntT can be defined:

transparent inline def toIntT[N <: Nat]: Int =
  inline scala.compiletime.erasedValue[N] match
    case _: Zero.type => 0
    case _: Succ[n] => toIntT[n] + 1

inline val two = toIntT[Succ[Succ[Zero.type]]]

erasedValue is an erased method so it cannot be used and has no runtime behavior. Since toIntT performs static checks over the static type of N we can safely use it to scrutinize its return type (S[S[Z]] in this case).


The error method is used to produce user-defined compile errors during inline expansion. It has the following signature:

inline def error(inline msg: String): Nothing

If an inline expansion results in a call error(msgStr) the compiler produces an error message containing the given msgStr.

import scala.compiletime.{error, codeOf}

inline def fail() =
  error("failed for a reason")

fail() // error: failed for a reason


inline def fail(inline p1: Any) =
  error("failed on: " + codeOf(p1))

fail(identity("foo")) // error: failed on: identity[String]("foo")

The scala.compiletime.ops package

The scala.compiletime.ops package contains types that provide support for primitive operations on singleton types. For example, scala.compiletime.ops.int.* provides support for multiplying two singleton Int types, and scala.compiletime.ops.boolean.&& for the conjunction of two Boolean types. When all arguments to a type in scala.compiletime.ops are singleton types, the compiler can evaluate the result of the operation.

import scala.compiletime.ops.int.*
import scala.compiletime.ops.boolean.*

val conjunction: true && true = true
val multiplication: 3 * 5 = 15

Many of these singleton operation types are meant to be used infix (as in SLS §3.2.10).

Since type aliases have the same precedence rules as their term-level equivalents, the operations compose with the expected precedence rules:

import scala.compiletime.ops.int.*
val x: 1 + 2 * 3 = 7

The operation types are located in packages named after the type of the left-hand side parameter: for instance, scala.compiletime.ops.int.+ represents addition of two numbers, while scala.compiletime.ops.string.+ represents string concatenation. To use both and distinguish the two types from each other, a match type can dispatch to the correct implementation:

import scala.compiletime.ops.*

import scala.annotation.infix

type +[X <: Int | String, Y <: Int | String] = (X, Y) match
  case (Int, Int) => int.+[X, Y]
  case (String, String) => string.+[X, Y]

val concat: "a" + "b" = "ab"
val addition: 1 + 1 = 2

Summoning Givens Selectively

The new summonFrom construct makes implicit search available in a functional context. To solve the problem of creating the right set, one would use it as follows:

import scala.compiletime.summonFrom

inline def setFor[T]: Set[T] = summonFrom {
  case ord: Ordering[T] => new TreeSet[T]()(using ord)
  case _                => new HashSet[T]

A summonFrom call takes a pattern matching closure as argument. All patterns in the closure are type ascriptions of the form identifier : Type.

Patterns are tried in sequence. The first case with a pattern x: T such that a contextual value of type T can be summoned is chosen.

Alternatively, one can also use a pattern-bound given instance, which avoids the explicit using clause. For instance, setFor could also be formulated as follows:

import scala.compiletime.summonFrom

inline def setFor[T]: Set[T] = summonFrom {
  case given Ordering[T] => new TreeSet[T]
  case _                 => new HashSet[T]

summonFrom applications must be reduced at compile time.

Consequently, if a given instance of Ordering[String] is in the implicit scope, the code above will return a new instance of TreeSet[String]. Such an instance is defined in Ordering's companion object, so there will always be one.

summon[Ordering[String]] // Proves that an Ordering[String] is in scope

println(setFor[String].getClass) // prints class scala.collection.immutable.TreeSet

Note: summonFrom applications can raise ambiguity errors. Consider the following code with two givens in scope of type A. The pattern match in f will raise an ambiguity error if f is applied.

class A
given a1: A = new A
given a2: A = new A

inline def f: Any = summonFrom {
  case given _: A => ???  // error: ambiguous givens


The shorthand summonInline provides a simple way to write a summon that is delayed until the call is inlined. Unlike summonFrom, summonInline also yields the implicit-not-found error, if a given instance of the summoned type is not found.

import scala.compiletime.summonInline
import scala.annotation.implicitNotFound

@implicitNotFound("Missing One")
trait Missing1

@implicitNotFound("Missing Two")
trait Missing2

trait NotMissing
given NotMissing = ???

transparent inline def summonInlineCheck[T <: Int](inline t : T) : Any =
  inline t match
    case 1 => summonInline[Missing1]
    case 2 => summonInline[Missing2]
    case _ => summonInline[NotMissing]

val missing1 = summonInlineCheck(1) // error: Missing One
val missing2 = summonInlineCheck(2) // error: Missing Two
val notMissing : NotMissing = summonInlineCheck(3)


For more information about compile-time operations, see PR #4768, which explains how summonFrom's predecessor (implicit matches) can be used for typelevel programming and code specialization and PR #7201 which explains the new summonFrom syntax.