RUST — Why would I use divergent functions?

fn diverges() -> ! {
panic!("This function never returns!");
}
thread ‘main’ panicked at ‘This function never returns!’, hello.rs:2
$ RUST_BACKTRACE=1 ./diverges
thread 'main' panicked at 'This function never returns!', hello.rs:2
Some details are omitted, run with `RUST_BACKTRACE=full` for a verbose backtrace.
stack backtrace:
hello::diverges
at ./hello.rs:2
hello::main
at ./hello.rs:6
$ RUST_BACKTRACE=full ./diverges
thread 'main' panicked at 'This function never returns!', hello.rs:2
stack backtrace:
1: 0x7f402773a829 - sys::backtrace::write::h0942de78b6c02817K8r
2: 0x7f402773d7fc - panicking::on_panic::h3f23f9d0b5f4c91bu9w
3: 0x7f402773960e - rt::unwind::begin_unwind_inner::h2844b8c5e81e79558Bw
4: 0x7f4027738893 - rt::unwind::begin_unwind::h4375279447423903650
5: 0x7f4027738809 - diverges::h2266b4c4b850236beaa
6: 0x7f40277389e5 - main::h19bb1149c2f00ecfBaa
7: 0x7f402773f514 - rt::unwind::try::try_fn::h13186883479104382231
8: 0x7f402773d1d8 - __rust_try
9: 0x7f402773f201 - rt::lang_start::ha172a3ce74bb453aK5w
10: 0x7f4027738a19 - main
11: 0x7f402694ab44 - __libc_start_main
12: 0x7f40277386c8 - <unknown>
13: 0x0 - <unknown>
$ export RUST_BACKTRACE=1
...
$ RUST_BACKTRACE=0 ./diverges
thread 'main' panicked at 'This function never returns!', hello.rs:2
note: Run with `RUST_BACKTRACE=1` for a backtrace.
$ RUST_BACKTRACE=full cargo run
Running `target/debug/diverges`
thread 'main' panicked at 'This function never returns!', hello.rs:2
stack backtrace:
1: 0x7f402773a829 - sys::backtrace::write::h0942de78b6c02817K8r
2: 0x7f402773d7fc - panicking::on_panic::h3f23f9d0b5f4c91bu9w
3: 0x7f402773960e - rt::unwind::begin_unwind_inner::h2844b8c5e81e79558Bw
4: 0x7f4027738893 - rt::unwind::begin_unwind::h4375279447423903650
5: 0x7f4027738809 - diverges::h2266b4c4b850236beaa
6: 0x7f40277389e5 - main::h19bb1149c2f00ecfBaa
7: 0x7f402773f514 - rt::unwind::try::try_fn::h13186883479104382231
8: 0x7f402773d1d8 - __rust_try
9: 0x7f402773f201 - rt::lang_start::ha172a3ce74bb453aK5w
10: 0x7f4027738a19 - main
11: 0x7f402694ab44 - __libc_start_main
12: 0x7f40277386c8 - <unknown>
13: 0x0 - <unknown>
let x: i32 = diverges();
let x: String = diverges();

It has several uses. It can be used for functions which are designed to panic or exit the program. panic!() itself is one such function, but it can also be applied to functions which wrap panic!(), such as printing out more detailed error information and then panicking.

It can also be used for functions that never return. If a function goes into an infinite loop, such as the main loop of a server, and thus never returns, it could be defined this way.

Another possible use would be a wrapper around the Unix exec family of functions, in which the current process is replaced with the one being executed.

It is useful to have such a type because it is compatible with all other types. In order to be type safe, Rust has to ensure that all branches of a match or if statement return the same type. But if there are some branches that are unreachable or indicate an error, you need some way to throw an error that will unify with the type returned by the other branches. Because ! unifies with all types, it can be used in any such case.

--

--

Newbie in everything

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store