A minimalist implementation of type theory in fewer than 500 lines of Ocaml code, including comments. This version corresponds to the one described in the blog post How to implement dependent type theory I.
The type theory
The dependent type theory
tt has the following ingridients:
- The universes are
Type 2, ...
- A dependent product is written as
forall x : T1, T2
- A function is written as
fun x : T => e
- Application is written as
The hierarchy of universes is not commulative, i.e., even though
Type k has type
Type k is not a subuniverse of
ocamlbuild, which is part of OCaml, the
menhir parser generator, and
You can type
maketo make the
make byteto make the bytecode
make cleanto clean up.
make docto generate HTML documentation (see the generated
Help. in the interactive shell to see what the type system can do. Here is a sample
tt blog-part-I [Type Ctrl-D to exit or "Help." for help.] # Parameter N : Type 0. N is assumed # Parameter z : N. Parameter s : N -> N. z is assumed s is assumed # Definition three := fun f : N -> N => fun x : N => f (f (f x)). three is defined # Context. three = fun f : N -> N => fun x : N => f (f (f x)) : (N -> N) -> N -> N s : N -> N z : N N : Type 0 # Check (three (three s)). three (three s) : N -> N # Eval (three (three s)) z. = s (s (s (s (s (s (s (s (s z)))))))) : N
The purpose of the implementation is to keep the source uncomplicated and short. The essential bits of source code can be found in the following files. It should be possible for you to just read the entire source code. You should start with the core
syntax.ml-- abstract syntax
infer.ml-- type inference and normalization
and continue with the infrastructure
tt.ml-- interactive top level
error.ml-- error reporting
parser.mly-- concrete sytnax
print.ml-- pretty printing
The code is meant to be short and sweet, and close to how type theory is presented on paper. Therefore, it is not suitable for a real implementation, as it will get horribly inefficient as soon as you try anything complicated. But it should be useful for experimentation.
What experiments should I perform to learn more?
There are many things you can try, for example:
- basic types
- the eta rule for functions
- dependent sums
- de Bruijn indices
- cummulative universes, so that [A : Type k] implies [A : Type (k+1)]
- better type inference so that variables need not be explicitly typed
- flexible syntax, e.g., allow
fun x y : nat => ...instead of
fun x : nat => fun y : nat => ...
- prefix and infix operators