# Recursive Variants

Variant types may mention their own name inside their own body. For example, here is a variant type that could be used to represent something similar to int list:

type intlist = Nil | Cons of int * intlist

let lst3 = Cons (3, Nil)  (* similar to 3::[] or *)
let lst123 = Cons(1, Cons(2, l3)) (* similar to [1;2;3] *)

let rec sum (l:intlist) : int=
match l with
| Nil -> 0
| Cons(h,t) -> h + sum t

let rec length : intlist -> int = function
| Nil -> 0
| Cons (_,t) -> 1 + length t

let empty : intlist -> bool = function
| Nil -> true
| Cons _ -> false


Notice that in the definition of intlist, we define the Cons constructor to carry a value that contains an intlist. This makes the type intlist be recursive: it is defined in terms of itself.

Record types may also be recursive, but plain old type synonyms may not be:

type node = {value:int; next:node}  (* OK *)
type t = t*t  (* Error: The type abbreviation t is cyclic *)


Types may be mutually recursive if you use the and keyword:

type node = {value:int; next:mylist}
and mylist = Nil | Node of node


But any such mutual recursion must involve at least one variant or record type that the recursion "goes through". For example:

type t = u and u = t  (* Error: The type abbreviation t is cyclic *)
type t = U of u and u = T of t  (* OK *)