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theory, programming A concept first identified by
Christopher Strachey (1967) and developed by Hindley and
Milner, allowing types such as list of anything. E.g. in
length :: [a] -@# Int
is a function which operates on a list of objects of any type,
a (a is a type variable). This is known as parametric
polymorphism. Polymorphic typing allows strong type checking
as well as generic functions. ML in 1976 was the first
language with polymorphic typing.
Ad-hoc polymorphism (better described as overloading) is the
ability to use the same syntax for objects of different types,
e.g. "+" for addition of reals and integers or "-" for unary
negation or diadic subtraction. Parametric polymorphism
allows the same object code for a function to handle arguments
of many types but overloading only reuses syntax and requires
different code to handle different types.