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What is the ML Module System?, Part 1

Thu, 05 Jul 2012 13:24:08 GMT

Browsing through the heated Scala mail list discussion from 2009 on OOP versus functional programming, I ran into a number of messages which indicate some confusion as to the role and mechanism of the ML module system. The natural question that was raised is how is a module system different from a "low-level" object system. I am not entirely sure what a "low-level" object system is but in this post I would like to compare and contrast the ML module system and object systems, principally class-based object system but also classless object systems. First, what role do these language features serve? There is some overlap in purpose but also significant differences. The ML module system was originally designed to serve to roles:

  1. To support programming-in-the-large organization of large system architecture
  2. To facilitate the construction of a type-safe container library

In contrast, OOP is typically defined as supporting design goals of encapsulation, inheritance, and subtype polymorphism. On the surface, this suggests some overlap. Programming-in-the-large may sound like encapsulation, but as I will discuss, the reality is considerably more nuanced.


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