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Function Types in Kotlin on JVM


Brief solution overview

Extension functions

Extension function type T.(P) -> R is now just a shorthand for @ExtensionFunctionType Function2<T, P, R>. kotlin.extension is a type annotation defined in built-ins. So effectively functions and extension functions now have the same type, which means that everything which takes a function will work with an extension function and vice versa.

To prevent unpleasant ambiguities, we introduce additional restrictions: * A value of an extension function type cannot be called as a function, and a value of a non-extension function type cannot be called as an extension. This requires an additional diagnostic which is only fired when a call is resolved to the invoke with the wrong extension-ness. (Note that this restriction is likely to be lifted, so that extension functions can be called as functions, but not the other way around.) * Shape of a function literal argument or a function expression must exactly match the extension-ness of the corresponding parameter. You can’t pass an extension function literal or an extension function expression where a function is expected and vice versa. If you really want to do that, change the shape, assign literal to a variable or use the as operator.

So basically you can now safely coerce values between function and extension function types, but still should invoke them in the format which you specified in their type (with or without @ExtensionFunctionType).

With this we’ll get rid of classes ExtensionFunction0, ExtensionFunction1, … and the rest of this article will deal only with usual functions.

Function0, Function1, … types

The arity of the functional interface that the type checker can create in theory is not limited to any number, but in practice should be limited to 255 on JVM.

These interfaces are named kotlin.Function0<R>, kotlin.Function1<P0, R>, …, kotlin.Function42<P0, P1, ..., P41, R>, … They are fictitious, which means they have no sources and no runtime representation. Type checker creates the corresponding descriptors on demand, IDE creates corresponding source files on demand as well. Each of them inherits from kotlin.Function (described below) and contains only two functions, both of which should be synthetically produced by the compiler: * (declaration) invoke with no receiver, with the corresponding number of parameters and return type. * (synthesized) invoke with first type parameter as the extension receiver type, and the rest as parameters and return type.

Call resolution should use the annotations on the type of the value the call is performed on to select the correct invoke and to report the diagnostic if the invoke is illegal (see the previous block).

On JVM function types are erased to the physical classes defined in package kotlin.jvm.internal: Function0, Function1, …, Function22 and FunctionN for 23+ parameters.

Function interface

There’s also an empty interface kotlin.Function<R> which is a supertype for all functions.

package kotlin

interface Function<out R>

It’s a physical interface, declared in platform-agnostic built-ins, and present in kotlin-runtime.jar for example. However, its declaration is empty and should be empty because every physical JVM function class Function0, Function1, … inherits from it (and adds invoke()), and we don’t want to override anything besides invoke() when doing it from Java code.

Functions with 0..22 parameters at runtime

There are 23 function interfaces in kotlin.jvm.functions: Function0, Function1, …, Function22. Here’s Function1 declaration, for example:

package kotlin.jvm.functions

interface Function1<in P1, out R> : kotlin.Function<R> {
    fun invoke(p1: P1): R

These interfaces are supposed to be inherited from by Java classes when passing lambdas to Kotlin. They shouldn’t be used from Kotlin however, because normally you would use a function type there, most of the time even without mentioning built-in function classes: (P1, P2, P3) -> R.

Translation of Kotlin lambdas

There’s also FunctionImpl abstract class at runtime which helps in implementing arity and vararg-invocation. It inherits from all the physical function classes, unfortunately (more on that later).

package kotlin.jvm.internal;

// This class is implemented in Java because supertypes need to be raw classes
// for reflection to pick up correct generic signatures for inheritors
public abstract class FunctionImpl implements
    Function0, Function1, ..., ..., Function22,
    FunctionN   // See the next section on FunctionN
    public abstract int getArity();
    public Object invoke() {
        // Default implementations of all "invoke"s invoke "invokeVararg"
        // This is needed for KFunctionImpl (see below)
        assert getArity() == 0;
        return invokeVararg();
    public Object invoke(Object p1) {
        assert getArity() == 1;
        return invokeVararg(p1);
    public Object invoke(Object p1, ..., Object p22) { ... }

    public Object invokeVararg(Object... args) {
        throw new UnsupportedOperationException();
    public String toString() {
        // Some calculation involving generic runtime signatures

Each lambda is compiled to an anonymous class which inherits from FunctionImpl and implements the corresponding invoke:

{ (s: String): Int -> s.length }

// is translated to

object : FunctionImpl(), Function1<String, Int> {
    override fun getArity(): Int = 1

    /* bridge */ fun invoke(p1: Any?): Any? = ...
    override fun invoke(p1: String): Int = p1.length

Functions with more than 22 parameters at runtime

To support functions with many parameters there’s a special interface in JVM runtime:

package kotlin.jvm.functions

interface FunctionN<out R> : kotlin.Function<R> {
    val arity: Int
    fun invokeVararg(vararg p: Any?): R

TODO: usual hierarchy problems: there are no such members in kotlin.Function42 (it only has invoke()), so inheritance from Function42 will need to be hacked somehow

And another type annotation:

package kotlin.jvm.functions

annotation class arity(val value: Int)

A lambda type with 42 parameters on JVM is translated to @arity(42) FunctionN. A lambda is compiled to an anonymous class which overrides invokeVararg() instead of invoke():

object : FunctionImpl() {
    override fun getArity(): Int = 42

    override fun invokeVararg(vararg p: Any?): Any? { ... /* code */ }
    // TODO: maybe assert that p's size is 42 in the beginning of invokeVararg?

Note that Function0..Function22 are provided primarily for Java interoperability and as an optimization for frequently used functions. We can change the number of functions easily from 23 to something else if we want to. For example, for KFunction this number will be zero, since there’s no point in implementing a hypothetical KFunction5 from Java.

So when a large function is passed from Java to Kotlin, the object will need to inherit from FunctionN:

    // Kotlin
    fun fooBar(f: Function42<*,*,...,*>) = f(...)
    // Java
    fooBar(new FunctionN<String>() {
        public int getArity() { return 42; }
        public String invokeVararg(Object... p) { return "42"; }

Note that @arity(N) FunctionN<R> coming from Java code will be treated as (Any?, Any?, ..., Any?) -> R, where the number of parameters is N. If there’s no @arity annotation on the type FunctionN<R>, it won’t be loaded as a function type, but rather as just a classifier type with an argument.

Arity and invocation with vararg

There’s an ability to get an arity of a function object and call it with variable number of arguments, provided by extensions in platform-agnostic built-ins.

package kotlin

@intrinsic val Function<*>.arity: Int
@intrinsic fun <R> Function<R>.invokeVararg(vararg p: Any?): R

But they don’t have any implementation there. The reason is, they need platform-specific function implementation to work efficiently. This is the JVM implementation of the arity intrinsic (invokeVararg is essentially the same):

fun Function<*>.calculateArity(): Int {
    return if (function is FunctionImpl) {  // This handles the case of lambdas created from Kotlin
        function.arity  // Note the smart cast
    else when (function) {  // This handles all other lambdas, i.e. created from Java
        is Function0 -> 0
        is Function1 -> 1
        is Function22 -> 22
        is FunctionN -> function.arity  // Note the smart cast
        else -> throw UnsupportedOperationException()  // TODO: maybe do something funny here,
                                                       // e.g. find 'invoke' reflectively


The newly introduced FunctionImpl class inherits from all the Function0, Function1, …, FunctionN. This means that anyLambda is Function2<*, *, *> will be true for any Kotlin lambda. To fix this, we need to hack is so that it would reach out to the FunctionImpl instance and get its arity.

package kotlin.jvm.internal

// This is the intrinsic implementation
// Calls to this function are generated by codegen on 'is' against a function type
fun isFunctionWithArity(x: Any?, n: Int): Boolean = (x as? Function).arity == n

as should check if isFunctionWithArity(instance, arity), and checkcast if it is or throw exception if not.

A downside is that instanceof Function5 obviously won’t work correctly from Java. We should provide a public facade to isFunctionWithArity which should be used from Java instead of instanceof.

Also we should issue warnings on is Array<Function2<*, *, *>> (or as), since it won’t work for empty arrays (there’s no instance of FunctionImpl to reach out and ask the arity).

How this will help reflection

KFunction* interfaces should be synthesized at compile-time identically to functions. The compiler should resolve KFunction{N} for any N, IDEs should synthesize sources when needed, is/as should be handled similarly etc.

However, we won’t introduce multitudes of KFunctions at runtime. The two reasons we did it for Functions were Java interop and lambda performance, and they both are not so relevant here. A great aid was that the contents of each Function were trivial and easy to duplicate (23-plicate?), which is not the case at all for KFunctions: they also contain code related to reflection.

So for reflection there will be: * fictitious interfaces KFunction0, KFunction1, …, KFunction42, … (defined in kotlin.reflect) * physical interface KFunction (defined in kotlin.reflect) * physical JVM runtime implementation class KFunctionImpl (defined in kotlin.reflect.jvm.internal)

As an example, KFunction1 is a fictitious interface (in much the same manner that Function1 is) which inherits from Function1 and KFunction. The former lets you call a type-safe invoke on a callable reference, and the latter allows you to use reflection features on the callable reference.

fun foo(s: String) {}

fun test() {
    ::foo.invoke("")  // ok, calls Function1.invoke
    ::foo.name        // ok, calls KFunction.name