Trait and lifetime bounds

TypeParamBounds :
TypeParamBound ( + TypeParamBound )* +?

TypeParamBound :
Lifetime | TraitBound

TraitBound :
?? ForLifetimes? TypePath
| ( ?? ForLifetimes? TypePath )

LifetimeBounds :
( Lifetime + )* Lifetime?

Lifetime :
| 'static
| '_

Trait and lifetime bounds provide a way for generic items to restrict which types and lifetimes are used as their parameters. Bounds can be provided on any type in a where clause. There are also shorter forms for certain common cases:

  • Bounds written after declaring a generic parameter: fn f<A: Copy>() {} is the same as fn f<A> where A: Copy () {}.
  • In trait declarations as supertraits: trait Circle : Shape {} is equivalent to trait Circle where Self : Shape {}.
  • In trait declarations as bounds on associated types: trait A { type B: Copy; } is equivalent to trait A where Self::B: Copy { type B; }.

Bounds on an item must be satisfied when using the item. When type checking and borrow checking a generic item, the bounds can be used to determine that a trait is implemented for a type. For example, given Ty: Trait

  • In the body of a generic function, methods from Trait can be called on Ty values. Likewise associated constants on the Trait can be used.
  • Associated types from Trait can be used.
  • Generic functions and types with a T: Trait bounds can be used with Ty being used for T.
# #![allow(unused_variables)]
#fn main() {
# type Surface = i32;
trait Shape {
    fn draw(&self, Surface);
    fn name() -> &'static str;

fn draw_twice<T: Shape>(surface: Surface, sh: T) {
    sh.draw(surface);           // Can call method because T: Shape

fn copy_and_draw_twice<T: Copy>(surface: Surface, sh: T) where T: Shape {
    let shape_copy = sh;        // doesn't move sh because T: Copy
    draw_twice(surface, sh);    // Can use generic function because T: Shape

struct Figure<S: Shape>(S, S);

fn name_figure<U: Shape>(
    figure: Figure<U>,          // Type Figure<U> is well-formed because U: Shape
) {
        "Figure of two {}",
        U::name(),              // Can use associated function

Trait and lifetime bounds are also used to name trait objects.


? is only used to declare that the Sized trait may not be implemented for a type parameter or associated type. ?Sized may not be used as a bound for other types.

Lifetime bounds

Lifetime bounds can be applied to types or other lifetimes. The bound 'a: 'b is usually read as 'a outlives 'b. 'a: 'b means that 'a lasts longer than 'b, so a reference &'a () is valid whenever &'b () is valid.

# #![allow(unused_variables)]
#fn main() {
fn f<'a, 'b>(x: &'a i32, mut y: &'b i32) where 'a: 'b {
    y = x;                      // &'a i32 is a subtype of &'b i32 because 'a: 'b
    let r: &'b &'a i32 = &&0;   // &'b &'a i32 is well formed because 'a: 'b

T: 'a means that all lifetime parameters of T outlive 'a. For example if 'a is an unconstrained lifetime parameter then i32: 'static and &'static str: 'a are satisfied but Vec<&'a ()>: 'static is not.

Higher-ranked trait bounds

Type bounds may be higher ranked over lifetimes. These bounds specify a bound is true for all lifetimes. For example, a bound such as for<'a> &'a T: PartialEq<i32> would require an implementation like

impl<'a> PartialEq<i32> for &'a T {
    // ...

and could then be used to compare a &'a T with any lifetime to an i32.

Only a higher-ranked bound can be used here as the lifetime of the reference is shorter than a lifetime parameter on the function:

# #![allow(unused_variables)]
#fn main() {
fn call_on_ref_zero<F>(f: F) where for<'a> F: Fn(&'a i32) {
    let zero = 0;

Higher-ranked lifetimes may also be specified just before the trait, the only difference is the scope of the lifetime parameter, which extends only to the end of the following trait instead of the whole bound. This function is equivalent to the last one.

# #![allow(unused_variables)]
#fn main() {
fn call_on_ref_zero<F>(f: F) where F: for<'a> Fn(&'a i32) {
    let zero = 0;

© 2010 The Rust Project Developers
Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 or the MIT license, at your option.