Practical Programming with Substructural Types

Jesse A. Tov

Ph.D. dissertation, Northeastern University, February 2012

Substructural logics remove from classical logic rules for reordering, duplication, or dropping of assumptions. Because propositions in such a logic may no longer be freely copied or ignored, this suggests understanding propositions in substructural logics as representing resources rather than truth. For the programming language designer, substructural logics thus provide a framework for considering type systems that can track the changing states of logical and physical resources.

While several substructural type systems have been proposed and implemented, many of these have targeted substructural types at a particular purpose, rather than offering them as a general facility. The more general substructural type systems have been theoretical in nature and too unwieldy for practical use. This dissertation presents the design of a general purpose language with substructural types, and discusses several language design problems that had to be solved in order to make substructural types useful in practice.


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