Victor López Juan, Computer Science and Engineering

​​Practical Heterogeneous Unification for Dependent Type Checking

Dependent types can specify in detail which inputs to a program are allowed, and how the properties of its output depend on the inputs. A program called the type checker assesses whether a program has a given type, thus detecting situations where the implementation of a program potentially differs from its intended behaviour. When using dependent types, the inputs to a program often occur in the types of other inputs or in the type of the output. The user may omit some of these redundant inputs when calling the program, expecting the type-checker to infer those subterms automatically.

Some type-checkers restrict the inference of missing subterms to those cases where there is a provably unique solution. This makes the process more predictable, but also limits the situations in which the omitted terms can be inferred; specially when considering that whether a unique solution exists is in general an undecidable problem. This restriction can be made less limiting by giving flexibility to the type-checker regarding the order in which the missing subterms are inferred. The type-checker can then use the information gained by filling in any one subterm in order to infer others, until the whole program has been type-checked. However, this flexibility may in some cases lead to ill-typed subterms being inferred, breaking internal invariants of the type-checker and causing it to crash or loop. The type checker could mitigate this by consistently rechecking the type of each inferred subterm, but this might incur a performance penalty. 

An approach by Gundry and McBride (2012) called twin types has the potential to afford the desired flexibility while preserving well-typedness invariants. However, this method had not yet been tested in a practical setting. In this thesis we streamline the method of twin types in order to ease its practical implementation, justify the correctness of our modifications, and then implement the result in an established dependently-typed language called Agda. We show that our implementation resolves certain existing bugs in Agda while still allowing a wide range of examples to be type-checked, and achieves this without heavily impacting performance.


Associate professor Claudio Sacerdoti Coen, University of Bologna, Spain

Link to publication

Link to online defence

Category Thesis defence
Location: Zoom, link above
Starts: 10 December, 2021, 10:00
Ends: 10 December, 2021, 12:00

Page manager Published: Mon 15 Nov 2021.