Polymorphism (computer Science)

Polymorphism (computer Science)

In computer science, polymorphism is a programming language feature that allows values of different data types to be handled using a uniform interface. The concept of parametric polymorphism applies to both data types and functions. A function that can evaluate to or be applied to values of different types is known as a polymorphic function. A data type that can appear to be of a generalized type (e.g., a list with elements of arbitrary type) is designated polymorphic data type like the generalized type from which such specializations are made.

There are several fundamentally different kinds of polymorphism, two of which were originally informally described by Christopher Strachey in 1967. If the function denotes different and potentially heterogeneous implementations depending on a limited range of individually specified types and combination, it is called ad-hoc polymorphism. Ad-hoc polymorphism is supported in many languages using function and method overloading.

If all code is written without mention of any specific type and thus can be used transparently with any number of new types, it is called parametric polymorphism. John C. Reynolds (and later Jean-Yves Girard) formally developed this notion of polymorphism as an extension to lambda calculus (called the polymorphic lambda calculus, or System F). Parametric polymorphism is widely supported in statically typed functional programming languages. In the object-oriented programming community, programming using parametric polymorphism is often called generic programming.

In object-oriented programming, subtype polymorphism or inclusion polymorphism is a concept in type theory wherein a name may denote instances of many different classes as long as they are related by some common super class. Inclusion polymorphism is generally supported through subtyping, i.e., objects of different types are entirely substitutable for objects of another type (their base type(s)) and thus can be handled via a common interface.

Interaction between parametric polymorphism and subtyping leads to the concepts of bounded quantification and covariance and contravariance (or polarity) of type constructors.

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Polymorphism (computer Science) - Forms of Polymorphism - Subtype Polymorphism (or Inclusion Polymorphism)
... be used in a particular case of parametric polymorphism ... In these languages,subtyping polymorphism(sometimes referred to as dynamic polymorphism allows a function to be written to take an object of a certain type T,but also work correctly if passed an ... This type relation is sometimes written SS ...