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Type coercions

Coercions are defined in RFC 401. RFC 1558 then expanded on that. A coercion is implicit and has no syntax.

Coercion sites

A coercion can only occur at certain coercion sites in a program; these are typically places where the desired type is explicit or can be derived by propagation from explicit types (without type inference). Possible coercion sites are:

  • let statements where an explicit type is given.

    For example, 42 is coerced to have type i8 in the following:

    # #![allow(unused_variables)]
    #fn main() {
    let _: i8 = 42;
    
    #}
  • static and const statements (similar to let statements).

  • Arguments for function calls

    The value being coerced is the actual parameter, and it is coerced to the type of the formal parameter.

    For example, 42 is coerced to have type i8 in the following:

    fn bar(_: i8) { }
    
    fn main() {
        bar(42);
    }
    
  • Instantiations of struct or variant fields

    For example, 42 is coerced to have type i8 in the following:

    struct Foo { x: i8 }
    
    fn main() {
        Foo { x: 42 };
    }
    
  • Function results, either the final line of a block if it is not semicolon-terminated or any expression in a return statement

    For example, 42 is coerced to have type i8 in the following:

    # #![allow(unused_variables)]
    #fn main() {
    fn foo() -> i8 {
        42
    }
    
    #}

If the expression in one of these coercion sites is a coercion-propagating expression, then the relevant sub-expressions in that expression are also coercion sites. Propagation recurses from these new coercion sites. Propagating expressions and their relevant sub-expressions are:

  • Array literals, where the array has type [U; n]. Each sub-expression in the array literal is a coercion site for coercion to type U.

  • Array literals with repeating syntax, where the array has type [U; n]. The repeated sub-expression is a coercion site for coercion to type U.

  • Tuples, where a tuple is a coercion site to type (U_0, U_1, ..., U_n). Each sub-expression is a coercion site to the respective type, e.g. the zeroth sub-expression is a coercion site to type U_0.

  • Parenthesized sub-expressions ((e)): if the expression has type U, then the sub-expression is a coercion site to U.

  • Blocks: if a block has type U, then the last expression in the block (if it is not semicolon-terminated) is a coercion site to U. This includes blocks which are part of control flow statements, such as if/else, if the block has a known type.

Coercion types

Coercion is allowed between the following types:

  • T to U if T is a subtype of U (reflexive case)

  • T_1 to T_3 where T_1 coerces to T_2 and T_2 coerces to T_3 (transitive case)

    Note that this is not fully supported yet

  • &mut T to &T

  • *mut T to *const T

  • &T to *const T

  • &mut T to *mut T

  • &T to &U if T implements Deref<Target = U>. For example:

    use std::ops::Deref;
    
    struct CharContainer {
        value: char,
    }
    
    impl Deref for CharContainer {
        type Target = char;
    
        fn deref<'a>(&'a self) -> &'a char {
            &self.value
        }
    }
    
    fn foo(arg: &char) {}
    
    fn main() {
        let x = &mut CharContainer { value: 'y' };
        foo(x); //&mut CharContainer is coerced to &char.
    }
    
  • &mut T to &mut U if T implements DerefMut<Target = U>.

  • TyCtor(T) to TyCtor(coerce_inner(T)), where TyCtor(T) is one of

    • &T
    • &mut T
    • *const T
    • *mut T
    • Box<T>

    and where

    • coerce_inner([T, ..n]) = [T]
    • coerce_inner(T) = U where T is a concrete type which implements the trait U.

    In the future, coerce_inner will be recursively extended to tuples and structs. In addition, coercions from sub-traits to super-traits will be added. See RFC 401 for more details.

  • Non capturing closures to fn pointers

© 2010 The Rust Project Developers
Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 or the MIT license, at your option.
https://doc.rust-lang.org/reference/type-coercions.html