Coeffects for Sharing and Mutation

Riccardo Bianchini, Francesco Dagnino, Paola Giannini, Elena Zucca, Marco Servetto

In type-and-coeffect systems, contexts are enriched by coeffects modeling how they are actually used, typically through annotations on single variables. Coeffects are computed bottom-up, combining, for each term, the coeffects of its subterms, through a fixed set of algebraic operators. We show that this principled approach can be adopted to track sharing in the imperative paradigm, that is, links among variables possibly introduced by the execution. This provides a significant example of non-structural coeffects, which cannot be computed by-variable, since the way a given variable is used can affect the coeffects of other variables. To illustrate the effectiveness of the approach, we enhance the type system tracking sharing to model a sophisticated set of features related to uniqueness and immutability. Thanks to the coeffect-based approach, we can express such features in a simple way and prove related properties with standard techniques.

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