Hoare type theory, polymorphism and separation

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  • Alexandar Nanevski, United Kingdom
  • J. Gregory Morrisett, Denmark
  • Lars Birkedal
We consider the problem of reconciling a dependently typed functional language with
imperative features such as mutable higher-order state, pointer aliasing, and nontermination.
We propose Hoare type theory (HTT), which incorporates Hoare-style specifications into
types, making it possible to statically track and enforce correct use of side effects.
The main feature of HTT is the Hoare type {P}x:A{Q} specifying computations with
precondition P and postcondition Q that return a result of type A. Hoare types can be nested,
combined with other types, and abstracted, leading to a smooth integration with higher-order
functions and type polymorphism.
We further show that in the presence of type polymorphism, it becomes possible to interpret
the Hoare types in the “small footprint” manner, as advocated by separation logic, whereby
specifications tightly describe the state required by the computation.
We establish that HTT is sound and compositional, in the sense that separate verifications
of individual program components suffice to ensure the correctness of the composite program.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Functional Programming
Volume18
Issue5-6
Pages (from-to)865-911
Number of pages47
ISSN0956-7968
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

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