Type Class, a Scala language concept

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Type classes are one of Scala's most important super-powers: they enable you to add new behaviour to existing classes, without modifying those classes. In many languages, to add a behaviour to a class, you would typically extend it with an interface, and then implement methods against this interface.This, however, does not scale: especially when you have older libraries, you would be forced to make them depend on a new interface, and have to re-build everything.

Type classes are used heavily in Apple's SwiftUI as "extensions" to enable powerful abstraction capabilities.

Key points:

These possibilities are enhanced with syntatic sugar that enables you to develop extremely concise code, and we will demonstrate this here.

trait Combinable[T] {
  def combine(x: T, y: T): T

val combineStrings: Combinable[String] = _ + _

  combineStrings.combine("A", "B") == "AB",
  "Add new behaviour to Strings, without syntatic sugar"

Type classes normally are enhanced with syntatic sugar to save the amount of typing:

trait Combinable[T] {
  def combine(x: T, y: T): T

implicit val combinableString: Combinable[String] = _ + _

implicit class RichCombinable[T](t: T)(implicit combinable: Combinable[T]) {
  def combineWith(other: T): T = combinable.combine(t, other)

assert(("A" combineWith "B") == "AB", "Combine using syntatic sugar")

And finally, we can re-use generically implemented behaviour on new classes, by simply declaring a new 'instance' of a type class!

trait Combinable[T] {
  def combine(x: T, y: T): T

implicit val combinableString: Combinable[String] = _ + _

def combineMultiple[T](first: T, rest: T*)(implicit
    combinable: Combinable[T]
): T =
  (first :: rest.toList).reduceLeft[T] {
    case (a, b) => combinable.combine(a, b)

assert(combineMultiple("A", "B", "C") == "ABC")

implicit val combinableInt: Combinable[Int] =
  (a, b) => (a.toString + b.toString).toInt

assert(combineMultiple(1, 2, 3) == 123)


Type classes are a concept inspired by those in Haskell.

Their use massively extends what you can do with Scala, and they are widely used in libraries like 'cats'.

Another worthwhile example of type classes

import Ordering.Implicits._

type CommonType = (Int, String, Option[String])

val a: CommonType = (1, "X", None)

val b: CommonType = (2, "A", Some("B"))

assert(a < b, "We can order tuples using Scala-provided type classes")

To see more of Ordering, go to Ordering.

Scala Algorithms: The most comprehensive library of algorithms in standard pure-functional Scala

Think in Scala & master the highest paid programming language in the US

Scala is used at many places, such as AirBnB, Apple, Bank of America, BBC, Barclays, Capital One, Citibank, Coursera, eBay, JP Morgan, LinkedIn, Morgan Stanley, Netflix, Singapore Exchange, Twitter.

Study our 104 Scala Algorithms: 6 fully free, 59 published & 45 upcoming

Fully unit-tested, with explanations and relevant concepts; new algorithms published about once a week.

  1. Compute the length of longest valid parentheses
  2. Monitor success rate of a process that may fail
  3. Find combinations adding up to N (unique)
  4. Find k closest elements to a value in a sorted Array
  5. Make a queue using stacks (Lists in Scala)
  6. Single-elimination tournament tree
  7. Quick Sort sorting algorithm in pure immutable Scala
  8. Find minimum missing positive number in a sequence
  9. Compute a Roman numeral for an Integer, and vice-versa
  10. Matching parentheses algorithm with foldLeft and a state machine
  11. Traverse a tree Breadth-First, immutably
  12. Read a matrix as a spiral
  13. Remove duplicates from a sorted list (state machine)
  14. Merge Sort: stack-safe, tail-recursive, in pure immutable Scala, N-way
  15. Longest increasing sub-sequence length
  16. Binary search a generic Array
  17. Merge Sort: in pure immutable Scala
  18. Make a queue using Maps
  19. Is an Array a permutation?
  20. Count number of contiguous countries by colors
  21. Add numbers without using addition (plus sign)
  22. Tic Tac Toe MinMax solve
  23. Run-length encoding (RLE) Encoder
  24. Print Alphabet Diamond
  25. Balanced parentheses algorithm with tail-call recursion optimisation
  26. Reverse a String's words efficiently
  27. Count number of changes (manipulations) needed to make an anagram with foldLeft and a MultiSet
  28. Counting inversions of a sequence (array) using a Merge Sort
  29. Check if an array is a palindrome
  30. Compute nth row of Pascal's triangle
  31. Run-length encoding (RLE) Decoder
  32. Check if a number is a palindrome
  33. In a range of numbers, count the numbers divisible by a specific integer
  34. Find the index of a substring ('indexOf')
  35. Reshape a matrix
  36. Closest pair of coordinates in a 2D plane
  37. Find the contiguous slice with the minimum average
  38. Compute maximum sum of subarray (Kadane's algorithm)
  39. Binary search in a rotated sorted array
  40. Rotate Array right in pure-functional Scala - using an unusual immutable efficient approach
  41. Length of the longest common substring
  42. Tic Tac Toe board check
  43. Find an unpaired number in an array
  44. Check if a String is a palindrome
  45. Count binary gap size of a number using tail recursion
  46. Remove duplicates from a sorted list (Sliding)
  47. Find sub-array with the maximum sum
  48. Find the minimum absolute difference of two partitions
  49. Find maximum potential profit from an array of stock price
  50. Fibonacci in purely functional immutable Scala
  51. Fizz Buzz in purely functional immutable Scala
  52. Find combinations adding up to N (non-unique)
  53. Remove duplicates from an unsorted List
  54. Count factors/divisors of an integer
  55. Compute single-digit sum of digits
  56. Traverse a tree Depth-First
  57. Reverse bits of an integer
  58. QuickSelect Selection Algorithm (kth smallest item/order statistic)
  59. Rotate a matrix by 90 degrees clockwise

Explore the 21 most useful Scala concepts

To save you going through various tutorials, we cherry-picked the most useful Scala concepts in a consistent form.

  1. Class Inside Class
  2. Class Inside Def
  3. Collect
  4. Def Inside Def
  5. Drop, Take, dropRight, takeRight
  6. foldLeft and foldRight
  7. For-comprehension
  8. Lazy List
  9. Option Type
  10. Ordering
  11. Partial Function
  12. Pattern Matching
  13. Range
  14. scanLeft and scanRight
  15. Sliding / Sliding Window
  16. Stack Safety
  17. State machine
  18. Tail Recursion
  19. Type Class
  20. View
  21. Zip

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