Scala Language Composition


Partial functions are often used to define a total function in parts:

sealed trait SuperType
case object A extends SuperType
case object B extends SuperType
case object C extends SuperType

val pfA: PartialFunction[SuperType, Int] = {
  case A => 5

val pfB: PartialFunction[SuperType, Int] = {
  case B => 10

val input: Seq[SuperType] = Seq(A, B, C) orElse pfB orElse {
  case _ => 15
}) // Seq(5, 10, 15)

In this usage, the partial functions are attempted in order of concatenation with the orElse method. Typically, a final partial function is provided that matches all remaining cases. Collectively, the combination of these functions acts as a total function.

This pattern is typically used to separate concerns where a function may effectively act a dispatcher for disparate code paths. This is common, for example, in the receive method of an Akka Actor.