[Scala MOOC I] Lec3: Data and Abstraction

This week, we'll cover traits, and we'll learn how to organize classes into hierarchies. We'll cover the hierarchy of standard Scala types, and see how to organize classes and traits into packages. Finally, we'll touch upon the different sorts of polymorphism in Scala.

3.1 - Class Hierarchies

abstract class

abstract class IntSet { 
  def incl(x: Int): IntSet 
  def contains(x: Int): Boolean 

abstract class:

  • contains members without implementation
  • cannot be created with new

class Extensions

implement the integer set abstract class with BST 2 types of trees: Empty and NonEmpty

class Empty extends IntSet { 
  override def incl(x: Int): IntSet = new NonEmpty(x, new Empty, new Empty)

  override def contains(x: Int): Boolean = false 

class NonEmpty(elem: Int, left: IntSet, right: IntSet) extends IntSet { 
  override def incl(x: Int): IntSet = 
    if (x == elem) this 
    else if (elem > x) new NonEmpty(elem, left.incl(x), right)// immutable! 
    else new NonEmpty(elem, left, right.incl(x))

  override def contains(x: Int): Boolean = 
    if (elem == x) true 
    else if (elem > x) left.contains(x) 
    else right.contains(x) 

root class of all classes: Object

replace concrete defintion of super class: override is mandantory.


in the previous example, seems only one single Empty set is needed.
⇒ define Empty as singleton object no other Empty instances can be created, object is a value.

object Empty extends IntSet { 
  override def incl(x: Int): IntSet = new NonEmpty(x, Empty, Empty)

  override def contains(x: Int): Boolean = false

  override def toString = "." 


create standalone scala applicatoins.
Each such applications contains an object with a main(args:Array[String]) method

exercice: implement union

union(other:IntSet): IntSet

override def union(other: IntSet): IntSet = 
  left union (right union (other incl elem))

why this recursive call terminates ?
every call to union is on a smaller IntSet !

写成这样就会stackoverflow: other.incl(elem).union(left).union(right)
讨论见: https://www.coursera.org/learn/progfun1/discussions/weeks/3/threads/AzJ-4CLYEeag6wpD-92Rcw (需要点"view earlier replies"才有)

Dynamic Binding

behavior depends on the runtime type of the object.

~ higher-order functions

Lecture 3.2 - How Classes Are Organized


// named imports 
import week3.Rational 
import week3.{Rational, Hello} 
// wildcard import  
import week3._

can import either from a package or from an object

automatically imported in scala:

scaladoc: http://www.scala-lang.org/files/archive/api/current/#package


in scala/java, a class has only one super class (single inheritance).
have several supertypes? ⇒ trait!

  • one class can extend many traits (concated by with) — like java interface

  • traits can contain fileds and concrete methods
  • on the other hand, traits cannot have (value) parameters, but classes can

scala class hierchy

  • Any: base class of all
  • AnyVal: primitive types (Int, Unit, Boolean,...)
  • AnyRef: (=alias of java.lang.Object) all reference types (String, List, Seq, Iterable,...)
  • Nothing: bottom of the hierchy, is subtype of every type
  • Null: subtype of every reference type, null's type is Null, not compatible with AnyVal types.

exception: throw Exc, the typeof Exc is Nothing

if (true) 1 else false ⇒ type = AnyVal

Lecture 3.3 - Polymorphism


immutable linked list implement this in scala:

the val in the class definition: defines at the same time parameter and field of a class, equivalent to:

type parameters (generic)

trait List[T]{ 
  def isEmpty : Boolean 
  def head: T 
  def tail: List[T] 

class Cons[T](val head:T, val tail: List[T]) extends List[T] { 
  def isEmpty(): Boolean = false 

head and tail are implemented in the parameters(fields), difference between val and def only consist in the initialization (CBN, CBV).

class Nil[T] extends List[T]{ 
  def isEmpty = false 
  def head: Nothing = throw new NoSuchElementException("Nil.head") 
  def tail: Nothing = throw new NoSuchElementException("Nil.tail") 

use nothing as return type, and throw an exception.

generic functions

type parameters can be applied to functions.
sometime the type parameter can be deduced by scala compiler.
ex. singleton(2); singleton(true)

Types and Evaulation

type parameters don't affect evaluation.
can assume type parameters are removed before the evaluation (type erasure).


  • subtyping: instances of subclass can be passed to a base class
  • generics: function/class with type parameters

exercice: write a function nth(n: Int, list: List)

def nth[T](n: Int, list:List[T]): T =  
  if(list.isEmpty) throw new IndexOutOfBoundsException() 
  else if (n==0) list.head 
  else nth(n-1, list.tail)

Programming Assignment: Object-Oriented Sets

TweetSet: an abstract class TweetSet with two concrete subclasses,Empty which represents an empty set, and NonEmpty(elem: Tweet, left: TweetSet, right: TweetSet), which represents a non-empty set as a binary tree rooted at elem. The tweets are indexed by their text bodies: the bodies of all tweets on the left are lexicographically smaller than elem and all bodies of elements on the right are lexicographically greater.

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