3.2 Types and Subtypes

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Static Semantics

A type is characterized by a set of values, and a set of primitive operations which implement the fundamental aspects of its semantics. An object of a given type is a run-time entity that contains (has) a value of the type.

Types are grouped into classes of types, reflecting the similarity of their values and primitive operations. There exist several language-defined classes of types (see NOTES below). Elementary types are those whose values are logically indivisible; composite types are those whose values are composed of component values.

The elementary types are the scalar types (discrete and real) and the access types (whose values provide access to objects or subprograms). Discrete types are either integer types or are defined by enumeration of their values (enumeration types). Real types are either floating point types or fixed point types.

The composite types are the record types, record extensions, array types, task types, and protected types. A private type or private extension represents a partial view (see 7.3) of a type, providing support for data abstraction. A partial view is a composite type.

Certain composite types (and partial views thereof) have special components called discriminants whose values affect the presence, constraints, or initialization of other components. Discriminants can be thought of as parameters of the type.

The term subcomponent is used in this International Standard in place of the term component to indicate either a component, or a component of another subcomponent. Where other subcomponents are excluded, the term component is used instead. Similarly, a part of an object or value is used to mean the whole object or value, or any set of its subcomponents.

The set of possible values for an object of a given type can be subjected to a condition that is called a constraint (the case of a null constraint that specifies no restriction is also included); the rules for which values satisfy a given kind of constraint are given in 3.5 for range_constraints, 3.6.1 for index_constraints, and 3.7.1 for discriminant_constraints.

A subtype of a given type is a combination of the type, a constraint on values of the type, and certain attributes specific to the subtype. The given type is called the type of the subtype. Similarly, the associated constraint is called the constraint of the subtype. The set of values of a subtype consists of the values of its type that satisfy its constraint. Such values belong to the subtype.

A subtype is called an unconstrained subtype if its type has unknown discriminants, or if its type allows range, index, or discriminant constraints, but the subtype does not impose such a constraint; otherwise, the subtype is called a constrained subtype (since it has no unconstrained characteristics).


2  Any set of types that is closed under derivation (see 3.4) can be called a class of types. However, only certain classes are used in the description of the rules of the language -- generally those that have their own particular set of primitive operations (see 3.2.3), or that correspond to a set of types that are matched by a given kind of generic formal type (see 12.5). The following are examples of interesting language-defined classes: elementary, scalar, discrete, enumeration, character, boolean, integer, signed integer, modular, real, floating point, fixed point, ordinary fixed point, decimal fixed point, numeric, access, access-to-object, access-to-subprogram, composite, array, string, (untagged) record, tagged, task, protected, nonlimited. Special syntax is provided to define types in each of these classes.

These language-defined classes are organized like this:

 all types
              other enumeration
              signed integer
              modular integer
           floating point
           fixed point
              ordinary fixed point
              decimal fixed point
        other array
      untagged record

The classes numeric and nonlimited represent other classification dimensions and do not fit into the above strictly hierarchical picture.

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