Matching Objects with Patterns

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Abstract

Data in object-oriented programming is organized in a hierarchy of classes. The problem of object-oriented pattern matching is how to explore this hierarchy from the outside. This usually involves classifying objects by their run-time type, accessing their members, or determining some other characteristic of a group of objects. In this paper we compare six different pattern matching techniques: object-oriented decomposition, visitors, type-tests/type-casts, typecase, case classes, and extractors. The techniques are compared on nine criteria related to conciseness, maintainability and performance. The paper introduces case classes and extractors as two new pattern-matching methods and shows that their combination works well for all of the established criteria.