Algebraic Data Types
Sven Eric Panitz
Java Annotations for Algebraic Data Types
Algebraic data types are known from functional programming languages.
type is defined by a set of constructors. Usually algebraic types are
recursive and represent some hierarchical structure. Algorithms on algebraic
types traverse over the tree structure. Typical examples for algebraic types
are defined by XML schemas or DTDs.
In functional language tree traversal can be easily implemented through
pattern matching on the different constructors. In object oriented languages
the visitor pattern is the standard means for implementing pattern
matching. Implementing algebraic types and visitors in Java amounts
in a lot of boilerplate code.
The paper shows, how Javas new annotation mechanism can be used to define
algebraic types in an elegant way similar to the definitions in functional
languages. The complete type gets generated through a generator class,
which is invoked through Java's annotation processing tool apt.
The paper contains the complete sources of the generator together with some