One-of vs. Each-of
The big difference between variants and tuples/records is that a value of
a variant type is one of a set of possibilities, whereas a value
of a tuple/record type provides each of a set of possibilities.
Going back to our examples, a value of type
day is one of
Mon or etc. But a value of type
mon provides each of
string and an
ptype. Note how, in those previous two sentences,
the word "or" is associated with variant types, and the word "and" is associated
with tuple/record types. That's a good clue if you're ever trying to decide
whether you want to use a variant or a tuple/record: if you need one piece
of data or another, you want a variant; if you need one piece of data
and another, you want a tuple/record.
One-of types are more commonly known as sum types, and each-of types as product types. Those names come from set theory. Variants are like disjoint union, because each value of a variant comes from one of many underlying sets (and thus far each of those sets is just a single constructor hence has cardinality one). And disjoint union is is sometimes written with a summation operator \(\Sigma\). Tuples/records are like Cartesian product, because each value of a tuple/record contains a value from each of many underlying sets. And Cartesian product is usually written with a product operator \(\times\).