Return Position Impl Trait In Trait

Return-position impl trait in trait (RPITIT) is conceptually (and as of #112988, literally) sugar that turns RPITs in trait methods into generic associated types (GATs) without the user having to define that GAT either on the trait side or impl side.

RPITIT was originally implemented in #101224, which added support for async fn in trait (AFIT), since the implementation for RPITIT came for free as a part of implementing AFIT which had been RFC'd previously. It was then RFC'd independently in RFC 3425, which was recently approved by T-lang.

How does it work?

This doc is ordered mostly via the compilation pipeline. AST -> HIR -> astconv -> typeck.

AST and HIR

AST -> HIR lowering for RPITITs is almost the same as lowering RPITs. We still lower them as hir::ItemKind::OpaqueTy. The two differences are that:

We record in_trait for the opaque. This will signify that the opaque is an RPITIT for astconv, diagnostics that deal with HIR, etc.

We record lifetime_mappings for the opaque type, described below.

Aside: Opaque lifetime duplication

All opaques (not just RPITITs) end up duplicating their captured lifetimes into new lifetime parameters local to the opaque. The main reason we do this is because RPITs need to be able to "reify"1 any captured late-bound arguments, or make them into early-bound ones. This is so they can be used as generic args for the opaque, and later to instantiate hidden types. Since we don't know which lifetimes are early- or late-bound during AST lowering, we just do this for all lifetimes.

1

This is compiler-errors terminology, I'm not claiming it's accurate :^)

The main addition for RPITITs is that during lowering we track the relationship between the captured lifetimes and the corresponding duplicated lifetimes in an additional field, OpaqueTy::lifetime_mapping. We use this lifetime mapping later on in predicates_of to install bounds that enforce equality between these duplicated lifetimes and their source lifetimes in order to properly typecheck these GATs, which will be discussed below.

note:

It may be better if we were able to lower without duplicates and for that I think we would need to stop distinguishing between early and late bound lifetimes. So we would need a solution like Account for late-bound lifetimes in generics #103448 and then also a PR similar to Inherit function lifetimes for impl-trait #103449.

Astconv

The main change to astconv is that we lower hir::TyKind::OpaqueDef for an RPITIT to a projection instead of an opaque, using a newly synthesized def-id for a new associated type in the trait. We'll describe how exactly we get this def-id in the next section.

This means that any time we call ast_ty_to_ty on the RPITIT, we end up getting a projection back instead of an opaque. This projection can then be normalized to the right value -- either the original opaque if we're in the trait, or the inferred type of the RPITIT if we're in an impl.

Lowering to synthetic associated types

Using query feeding, we synthesize new associated types on both the trait side and impl side for RPITITs that show up in methods.

Lowering RPITITs in traits

When tcx.associated_item_def_ids(trait_def_id) is called on a trait to gather all of the trait's associated types, the query previously just returned the def-ids of the HIR items that are children of the trait. After #112988, additionally, for each method in the trait, we add the def-ids returned by tcx.associated_types_for_impl_traits_in_associated_fn(trait_method_def_id), which walks through each trait method, gathers any RPITITs that show up in the signature, and then calls associated_type_for_impl_trait_in_trait for each RPITIT, which synthesizes a new associated type.

Lowering RPITITs in impls

Similarly, along with the impl's HIR items, for each impl method, we additionally add all of the associated_types_for_impl_traits_in_associated_fn for the impl method. This calls associated_type_for_impl_trait_in_impl, which will synthesize an associated type definition for each RPITIT that comes from the corresponding trait method.

Synthesizing new associated types

We use query feeding (TyCtxtAt::create_def) to synthesize a new def-id for the synthetic GATs for each RPITIT.

Locally, most of rustc's queries match on the HIR of an item to compute their values. Since the RPITIT doesn't really have HIR associated with it, or at least not HIR that corresponds to an associated type, we must compute many queries eagerly and feed them, like opt_def_kind, associated_item, visibility, anddefaultness.

The values for most of these queries is obvious, since the RPITIT conceptually inherits most of its information from the parent function (e.g. visibility), or because it's trivially knowable because it's an associated type (opt_def_kind).

Some other queries are more involved, or cannot be feeded, and we document the interesting ones of those below:

generics_of for the trait

The GAT for an RPITIT conceptually inherits the same generics as the RPIT it comes from. However, instead of having the method as the generics' parent, the trait is the parent.

Currently we get away with taking the RPIT's generics and method generics and flattening them both into a new generics list, preserving the def-id of each of the parameters. (This may cause issues with def-ids having the wrong parents, but in the worst case this will cause diagnostics issues. If this ends up being an issue, we can synthesize new def-ids for generic params whose parent is the GAT.)

An illustrated example
#![allow(unused)]
fn main() {
trait Foo {
    fn method<'early: 'early, 'late, T>() -> impl Sized + Captures<'early, 'late>;
}
}

Would desugar to...

#![allow(unused)]
fn main() {
trait Foo {
    //       vvvvvvvvv method's generics
    //                  vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv opaque's generics
    type Gat<'early, T, 'early_duplicated, 'late>: Sized + Captures<'early_duplicated, 'late>;

    fn method<'early: 'early, 'late, T>() -> Self::Gat<'early, T, 'early, 'late>;
}
}
generics_of for the impl

The generics for an impl's GAT are a bit more interesting. They are composed of RPITIT's own generics (from the trait definition), appended onto the impl's methods generics. This has the same issue as above, where the generics for the GAT have parameters whose def-ids have the wrong parent, but this should only cause issues in diagnostics.

We could fix this similarly if we were to synthesize new generics def-ids, but this can be done later in a forwards-compatible way, perhaps by a interested new contributor.

opt_rpitit_info

Some queries rely on computing information that would result in cycles if we were to feed them eagerly, like explicit_predicates_of. Therefore we defer to the predicates_of provider to return the right value for our RPITIT's GAT. We do this by detecting early on in the query if the associated type is synthetic by using opt_rpitit_info, which returns Some if the associated type is synthetic.

Then, during a query like explicit_predicates_of, we can detect if an associated type is synthetic like:

#![allow(unused)]
fn main() {
fn explicit_predicates_of(tcx: TyCtxt<'_>, def_id: LocalDefId) -> ... {
    if let Some(rpitit_info) = tcx.opt_rpitit_info(def_id) {
        // Do something special for RPITITs...
        return ...;
    }

    // The regular computation which relies on access to the HIR of `def_id`.
}
}
explicit_predicates_of

RPITITs begin by copying the predicates of the method that defined it, both on the trait and impl side.

Additionally, we install "bidirectional outlives" predicates. Specifically, we add region-outlives predicates in both directions for each captured early-bound lifetime that constrains it to be equal to the duplicated early-bound lifetime that results from lowering. This is best illustrated in an example:

#![allow(unused)]
fn main() {
trait Foo<'a> {
    fn bar() -> impl Sized + 'a;
}

// Desugars into...

trait Foo<'a> {
    type Gat<'a_duplicated>: Sized + 'a
    where
        'a: 'a_duplicated,
        'a_duplicated: 'a;
    //~^ Specifically, we should be able to assume that the
    // duplicated `'a_duplicated` lifetime always stays in
    // sync with the `'a` lifetime.

    fn bar() -> Self::Gat<'a>;
}
}
assumed_wf_types

The GATs in both the trait and impl inherit the assumed_wf_types of the trait method that defines the RPITIT. This is to make sure that the following code is well formed when lowered.

#![allow(unused)]
fn main() {
trait Foo {
    fn iter<'a, T>(x: &'a [T]) -> impl Iterator<Item = &'a T>;
}

// which is lowered to...

trait FooDesugared {
    type Iter<'a, T>: Iterator<Item = &'a T>;
    //~^ assumed wf: `&'a [T]`
    // Without assumed wf types, the GAT would not be well-formed on its own.

    fn iter<'a, T>(x: &'a [T]) -> Self::Iter<'a, T>;
}
}

Because assumed_wf_types is only defined for local def ids, in order to properly implement assumed_wf_types for impls of foreign traits with RPITs, we need to encode the assumed wf types of RPITITs in an extern query assumed_wf_types_for_rpitit.

Typechecking

The RPITIT inference algorithm

The RPITIT inference algorithm is implemented in collect_return_position_impl_trait_in_trait_tys.

High-level: Given a impl method and a trait method, we take the trait method and instantiate each RPITIT in the signature with an infer var. We then equate this trait method signature with the impl method signature, and process all obligations that fall out in order to infer the type of all of the RPITITs in the method.

The method is also responsible for making sure that the hidden types for each RPITIT actually satisfy the bounds of the impl Trait, i.e. that if we infer impl Trait = Foo, that Foo: Trait holds.

An example...
#![allow(unused)]
#![feature(return_position_impl_trait_in_trait)]

fn main() {
use std::ops::Deref;

trait Foo {
    fn bar() -> impl Deref<Target = impl Sized>;
             // ^- RPITIT ?0        ^- RPITIT ?1
}

impl Foo for () {
    fn bar() -> Box<String> { Box::new(String::new()) }
}
}

We end up with the trait signature that looks like fn() -> ?0, and nested obligations ?0: Deref<Target = ?1>, ?1: Sized. The impl signature is fn() -> Box<String>.

Equating these signatures gives us ?0 = Box<String>, which then after processing the obligation Box<String>: Deref<Target = ?1> gives us ?1 = String, and the other obligation String: Sized evaluates to true.

By the end of the algorithm, we end up with a mapping between associated type def-ids to concrete types inferred from the signature. We can then use this mapping to implement type_of for the synthetic associated types in the impl, since this mapping describes the type that should come after the = in type Assoc = ... for each RPITIT.

Implied bounds in RPITIT hidden type inference

Since collect_return_position_impl_trait_in_trait_tys does fulfillment and region resolution, we must provide it assumed_wf_types so that we can prove region obligations with the same expected implied bounds as compare_method_predicate_entailment does.

Since the return type of a method is understood to be one of the assumed WF types, and we eagerly fold the return type with inference variables to do opaque type inference, after opaque type inference, the return type will resolve to contain the hidden types of the RPITITs. this would mean that the hidden types of the RPITITs would be assumed to be well-formed without having independently proven that they are. This resulted in a subtle unsoundness bug. In order to prevent this cyclic reasoning, we instead replace the hidden types of the RPITITs in the return type of the method with placeholders, which lead to no implied well-formedness bounds.

Default trait body

Type-checking a default trait body, like:

#![allow(unused)]
fn main() {
trait Foo {
    fn bar() -> impl Sized {
        1i32
    }
}
}

requires one interesting hack. We need to install a projection predicate into the param-env of Foo::bar allowing us to assume that the RPITIT's GAT normalizes to the RPITIT's opaque type. This relies on the observation that a trait method and RPITIT's GAT will always be "in sync". That is, one will only ever be overridden if the other one is as well.

Compare this to a similar desugaring of the code above, which would fail because we cannot rely on this same assumption:

#![allow(unused)]
#![feature(impl_trait_in_assoc_type)]
#![feature(associated_type_defaults)]

fn main() {
trait Foo {
    type RPITIT = impl Sized;

    fn bar() -> Self::RPITIT {
        01i32
    }
}
}

Failing because a down-stream impl could theoretically provide an implementation for RPITIT without providing an implementation of foo:

error[E0308]: mismatched types
--> src/lib.rs:8:9
 |
5 |     type RPITIT = impl Sized;
 |     ------------------------- associated type defaults can't be assumed inside the trait defining them
6 |
7 |     fn bar() -> Self::RPITIT {
 |                 ------------ expected `<Self as Foo>::RPITIT` because of return type
8 |         01i32
 |         ^^^^^ expected associated type, found `i32`
 |
 = note: expected associated type `<Self as Foo>::RPITIT`
                       found type `i32`

Well-formedness checking

We check well-formedness of RPITITs just like regular associated types.

Since we added lifetime bounds in predicates_of that link the duplicated early-bound lifetimes to their original lifetimes, and we implemented assumed_wf_types which inherits the WF types of the method from which the RPITIT originates (#113704), we have no issues WF-checking the GAT as if it were a regular GAT.

What's broken, what's weird, etc.

Specialization is super busted

The "default trait methods" described above does not interact well with specialization, because we only install those projection bounds in trait default methods, and not in impl methods. Given that specialization is already pretty busted, I won't go into detail, but it's currently a bug tracked in: * tests/ui/impl-trait/in-trait/specialization-broken.rs

Projections don't have variances

This code fails because projections don't have variances:

#![allow(unused)]
#![feature(return_position_impl_trait_in_trait)]

fn main() {
trait Foo {
    // Note that the RPITIT below does *not* capture `'lt`.
    fn bar<'lt: 'lt>() -> impl Eq;
}

fn test<'a, 'b, T: Foo>() -> bool {
    <T as Foo>::bar::<'a>() == <T as Foo>::bar::<'b>()
    //~^ ERROR
    // (requires that `'a == 'b`)
}
}

This is because we can't relate <T as Foo>::Rpitit<'a> and <T as Foo>::Rpitit<'b>, even if they don't capture their lifetime. If we were using regular opaque types, this would work, because they would be bivariant in that lifetime parameter:

#![allow(unused)]
#![feature(return_position_impl_trait_in_trait)]

fn main() {
fn bar<'lt: 'lt>() -> impl Eq {
    ()
}

fn test<'a, 'b>() -> bool {
    bar::<'a>() == bar::<'b>()
}
}

This is probably okay though, since RPITITs will likely have their captures behavior changed to capture all in-scope lifetimes anyways. This could also be relaxed later in a forwards-compatible way if we were to consider variances of RPITITs when relating projections.