Special Issue of the Symposium on Principles of Programming Languages 2009


Editors: Nick Benton, Patricia Johann, Andrzej Tarlecki

1. Lazy Evaluation and Delimited Control

Ronald Garcia ; Andrew Lumsdaine ; Amr Sabry.
The call-by-need lambda calculus provides an equational framework for reasoning syntactically about lazy evaluation. This paper examines its operational characteristics. By a series of reasoning steps, we systematically unpack the standard-order reduction relation of the calculus and discover a novel abstract machine definition which, like the calculus, goes "under lambdas." We prove that machine evaluation is equivalent to standard-order evaluation. Unlike traditional abstract machines, delimited control plays a significant role in the machine's behavior. In particular, the machine replaces the manipulation of a heap using store-based effects with disciplined management of the evaluation stack using control-based effects. In short, state is replaced with control. To further articulate this observation, we present a simulation of call-by-need in a call-by-value language using delimited control operations.

2. Classical BI: Its Semantics and Proof Theory

James Brotherston ; Cristiano Calcagno.
We present Classical BI (CBI), a new addition to the family of bunched logics which originates in O'Hearn and Pym's logic of bunched implications BI. CBI differs from existing bunched logics in that its multiplicative connectives behave classically rather than intuitionistically (including in particular a multiplicative version of classical negation). At the semantic level, CBI-formulas have the normal bunched logic reading as declarative statements about resources, but its resource models necessarily feature more structure than those for other bunched logics; principally, they satisfy the requirement that every resource has a unique dual. At the proof-theoretic level, a very natural formalism for CBI is provided by a display calculus à la Belnap, which can be seen as a generalisation of the bunched sequent calculus for BI. In this paper we formulate the aforementioned model theory and proof theory for CBI, and prove some fundamental results about the logic, most notably completeness of the proof theory with respect to the semantics.

3. Automatic Modular Abstractions for Template Numerical Constraints

David Monniaux.
We propose a method for automatically generating abstract transformers for static analysis by abstract interpretation. The method focuses on linear constraints on programs operating on rational, real or floating-point variables and containing linear assignments and tests. Given the specification of an abstract domain, and a program block, our method automatically outputs an implementation of the corresponding abstract transformer. It is thus a form of program transformation. In addition to loop-free code, the same method also applies for obtaining least fixed points as functions of the precondition, which permits the analysis of loops and recursive functions. The motivation of our work is data-flow synchronous programming languages, used for building control-command embedded systems, but it also applies to imperative and functional programming. Our algorithms are based on quantifier elimination and symbolic manipulation techniques over linear arithmetic formulas. We also give less general results for nonlinear constraints and nonlinear program constructs.

4. Positive Supercompilation for a Higher-Order Call-By-Value Language

Peter A. Jonsson ; Johan Nordlander.
Previous deforestation and supercompilation algorithms may introduce accidental termination when applied to call-by-value programs. This hides looping bugs from the programmer, and changes the behavior of a program depending on whether it is optimized or not. We present a supercompilation algorithm for a higher-order call-by-value language and prove that the algorithm both terminates and preserves termination properties. This algorithm utilizes strictness information to decide whether to substitute or not and compares favorably with previous call-by-name transformations.

5. Automated Verification of Practical Garbage Collectors

Chris Hawblitzel ; Erez Petrank.
Garbage collectors are notoriously hard to verify, due to their low-level interaction with the underlying system and the general difficulty in reasoning about reachability in graphs. Several papers have presented verified collectors, but either the proofs were hand-written or the collectors were too simplistic to use on practical applications. In this work, we present two mechanically verified garbage collectors, both practical enough to use for real-world C# benchmarks. The collectors and their associated allocators consist of x86 assembly language instructions and macro instructions, annotated with preconditions, postconditions, invariants, and assertions. We used the Boogie verification generator and the Z3 automated theorem prover to verify this assembly language code mechanically. We provide measurements comparing the performance of the verified collector with that of the standard Bartok collectors on off-the-shelf C# benchmarks, demonstrating their competitiveness.

6. A Model of Cooperative Threads

Martín Abadi ; Gordon D. Plotkin.
We develop a model of concurrent imperative programming with threads. We focus on a small imperative language with cooperative threads which execute without interruption until they terminate or explicitly yield control. We define and study a trace-based denotational semantics for this language; this semantics is fully abstract but mathematically elementary. We also give an equational theory for the computational effects that underlie the language, including thread spawning. We then analyze threads in terms of the free algebra monad for this theory.

7. Equality Saturation: A New Approach to Optimization

Ross Tate ; Michael Stepp ; Zachary Tatlock ; Sorin Lerner.
Optimizations in a traditional compiler are applied sequentially, with each optimization destructively modifying the program to produce a transformed program that is then passed to the next optimization. We present a new approach for structuring the optimization phase of a compiler. In our approach, optimizations take the form of equality analyses that add equality information to a common intermediate representation. The optimizer works by repeatedly applying these analyses to infer equivalences between program fragments, thus saturating the intermediate representation with equalities. Once saturated, the intermediate representation encodes multiple optimized versions of the input program. At this point, a profitability heuristic picks the final optimized program from the various programs represented in the saturated representation. Our proposed way of structuring optimizers has a variety of benefits over previous approaches: our approach obviates the need to worry about optimization ordering, enables the use of a global optimization heuristic that selects among fully optimized programs, and can be used to perform translation validation, even on compilers other than our own. We present our approach, formalize it, and describe our choice of intermediate representation. We also present experimental results showing that our approach is practical in terms of time and space overhead, is effective at discovering intricate optimization opportunities, and is effective at performing […]