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README.md

SweetT: Resugaring Type Systems

This is the artifact for the paper "Inferring Type Rules for Syntactic Sugar" by Justin Pombrio and Shriram Krishnamurthi.


Type systems and syntactic sugar are both valuable to programmers, but sometimes at odds. While sugar is a valuable mechanism for implementing realistic languages, the expansion process obscures program source structure. As a result, type errors can reference terms the programmers did not write (and even constructs they do not know), baffling them. The language developer must also manually construct type rules for the sugars, to give a typed account of the surface language. We address these problems by presenting a process for automatically reconstructing type rules for the surface language using rules for the core. We have implemented this theory, and show several interesting case studies.

Installation Instructions

  1. Install DrRacket, version 6.10.1. SweetT should also work fine with later versions of DrRacket. If it does not, please open a github issue and I'll see if I can fix it. (On Linux, you can either use the download link above and then run DrRacket from /usr/racket/bin/drracket, or---assuming your package manager is apt-get---you can simply run sudo apt-get install racket.)
  2. Try running the arith.rkt test in the examples directory by opening it in DrRacket (file/open or Ctrl-o) and hitting "Run". You should see a popup showing resugared type rules for the sugars defined in the file. You can browse them by clicking "Prev Derivation" and "Next Derivation".

Usage Guide

SweetT takes as input:

  1. A grammar for a core language,
  2. A set of type rules for that core language, and
  3. A set of desugaring rules that target that core language.

And it produces a set of type rules for the sugars.

To see how to use SweetT, let's walk through a small demo (found in examples/demo.rkt):

#lang racket

(require redex)
(require "../sweet-t.rkt")

;; This is a super-simple resugaring demo to demonstrate the API.

(define-resugarable-language demo
  #:keywords(if true false Bool)
  (e ::= ....
     (if e e e))
  (v ::= ....
     true
     false)
  (t ::= ....
     Bool)
  (s ::= ....
     (not s)))

(define-core-type-system demo
  [(⊢ Γ e_1 t_1)
   (⊢ Γ e_2 t_2)
   (⊢ Γ e_3 t_3)
   (con (t_1 = Bool))
   (con (t_2 = t_3))
   ------ t-if
   (⊢ Γ (if e_1 e_2 e_3) t_3)]

  [------ t-true
   (⊢ Γ true Bool)]

  [------ t-false
   (⊢ Γ false Bool)])

(define rule_not
  (ds-rule "not" #:capture()
           (not ~a)
           (if ~a false true)))

(view-sugar-type-rules demo ⊢ (list rule_not))

The first line says that this file is written in the Racket language. The next two lines say that we're going to use redex, which SweetT is built on, and sweet-t.rkt, which is SweetT itself.

#lang racket

(require redex)
(require "../sweet-t.rkt")

Next we define the language with define-resugarable-language. This takes a language name (demo), a list of keywords (to help SweetT tell the difference between a keyword and a variable), and a set of extensions to productions in the language grammar. (The language you define will build upon a very basic language defined in base-lang.rkt; this base language contains things like the calc-type feature described in the paper.) In this case, we extend expressions e with if expressions, values v with true and false, types t with Bool, and surface expressions s with (not s), which will be a sugar.

(define-resugarable-language demo
  #:keywords(if true false Bool)
  (e ::= ....
     (if e e e))
  (v ::= ....
     true
     false)
  (t ::= ....
     Bool)
  (s ::= ....
     (not s)))

Next we define the type system for the demo language, using Redex's type judgement notation. There is one important restriction, described in the paper: the rules must be "written using equality constraints: if two premises in a type rule would traditionally describe equality by repeating a type variable, SweetT instead requires that the rule be written using two different type variables, with an equality constraint between them - thus making the unification explicit." Thus in the t-if rule, we write the equality constraints (con (t_1 = Bool)) and (con (t_2 = t_3)).

(define-core-type-system demo
  [(⊢ Γ e_1 t_1)
   (⊢ Γ e_2 t_2)
   (⊢ Γ e_3 t_3)
   (con (t_1 = Bool))
   (con (t_2 = t_3))
   ------ t-if
   (⊢ Γ (if e_1 e_2 e_3) t_3)]

  [------ t-true
   (⊢ Γ true Bool)]

  [------ t-false
   (⊢ Γ false Bool)])

Now we're ready to write a desugaring rule. This is done with the ds-rule function, which takes a rule name (not), a set of variables to capture (typically the empty set), a left-hand-side (not ~a), and a right-hand-side (if ~a false true). Pattern variables are written with a tilde, so ~a is a pattern variable. This rule does not contain any regular variables, but they would be written without a tilde. Since false and true appeared in the keyword list above, they are interpreted as keywords rather than variables. Finally, rules can optionally choose to capture variables (i.e., be unhygienic) by listing them in the #:capture() list.

(define rule_not
  (ds-rule "not" #:capture()
           (not ~a)
           (if ~a false true)))

Finally, we can resugar this rule and view the resulting type rule. view-sugar-type-rules expects a language name (demo), a type judgement relation (which will always be ), and a list of rewrite rules to resugar (list rule_not). It then displays the inferred type rule for not in a popup window.

(view-sugar-type-rules demo ⊢ (list rule_not))

To see the type derivation that led to this type rule, use view-sugar-derivations instead. (Alternatively, view-sugar-simplified-derivations for the simplified derivation, in which type equalities have been eliminated via unification.)

How to Read the Type Rules

Here is a basic guide for how to read SweetT's type rules.

Basics:

(⊢ Γ e t)     means  Γ ⊢ e : t
(bind x t Γ)  means  x:t, Γ
~A            means  a pattern variable
A             means  a variable (or type variable)

Calctype (described in section 4.1):

(calctype e as t in e2)  means  assert that 'e' has type 't', and evaluate e2

Sequences (described in section 4.5):

ϵ            means an empty list or empty record
(cons e e*)  means cons e onto the front of the sequence e*

Not described in paper:

(field x e eRec)          means add the field x:e to record eRec
(bind* x* t* Γ)           means  x_1:t_1, ..., x_n:t_n, Γ
(calctype* e* as t* in e) means  (calctype e_1 as t_1 in ... (calctype e_n as t_n in e) ...)

Type Derivations

When reading SweetT type derivations, you can ignore "con-" rules that appear at the top of the derivation. You'll notice that they just repeat what's below them; they're there for technical reasons.

Artifact Evaluation Instructions

  1. Follow the installation instructions above.
  2. Get a sense of what SweetT is for and how it works by reading the paper (section 2 in particular should be a good overview), and by looking at the "Usage Guide" above.
  3. Check that SweetT conforms to the claims of the paper. We walk through all of the claims we believe the paper makes next, and describe how to verify them.

The zip file you received has the "full" version of the paper, which includes an appendix that will be useful. It also fixes some mistakes in the original paper: e.g. the example in section 4.5 was wrong.

Evaluation: Type Systems (section 6.1 from the paper)

The paper lists a number of type system features that we tested SweetT against. (TAPL stands for "Types and Programming Languages, by Benjamin Pierce.)

booleans    - TAPL pg.93
numbers     - TAPL pg.93
stlc        - TAPL pg.103
unit        - TAPL pg.119
ascription  - TAPL pg.122
let         - TAPL pg.124
pairs       - TAPL pg.126
tuples      - TAPL pg.128
records     - TAPL pg.129
sums        - TAPL pg.132 (uniq typing on pg. 135 irrelevant w/ T.I.)
variants    - TAPL pg.136
fixpoint    - TAPL pg.144
lists       - TAPL pg.147
exceptions  - TAPL pg.175 (skipping the tiny pre-version)
alg-subty   - TAPL pg.212
existential - TAPL pg.366

Instead of having 16 separate type systems each with one feature (which would be unweildy), we grouped these features into five type systems:

examples/arith.rkt:
  booleans, numbers, unit
examples/lambda.rkt:
  lambda (i.e. stlc), unit, ascription, fixpoint
examples/data.rkt:
  let, pairs, tuples, records, sums, variants, lists, exceptions
examples/exists.rkt:
  existentials
examples/subtype.rkt:
  algorithmic subtyping

We say in the paper: "We tested each type system by picking one or more sugars that made use of its features, resugaring them to obtain type rules, and validating the resulting type rules by hand. All of them resugared successfully. The full version of the paper will provide an appendix with complete details." You can find the full paper in the zipfile (paper.pdf).

You can verify that:

  1. For each type system feature from TAPL (e.g. booleans), the example file that includes that feature has a sugar that uses it (e.g. examples/arith.rkt is the file that implements booleans, and it contains a not sugar that uses booleans).
  2. Each of the sugars given has the type rule that you would expect it to have.

Case Studies (section 6.2 from the paper)

For each sugar in the case studies, you can verify that:

  1. The sugar definition matches what the paper says. (Note that the syntax will be superficially different, however. The implementation must represent everything as Redex terms which, e.g., require every AST node to be wrapped in parentheses. In contrast, the paper uses whichever syntax we think is most appropriate, e.g. the syntax used in TAPL for the TAPL examples, or Haskell syntax for the Haskell examples.)
  2. The resugared type rule matches what's shown in the paper.
  3. When the paper also shows the full type derivation that led to that type rule, the resugared type derivation matches what's shown in the paper. To see the resugared type derivation, you can run view-sugar-derivations instead of view-sugar-type-rules.

Note that (quoting the paper): "To make the examples fit we show the derivations after unification, eliminating equality constraints."

Foreach

The foreach loop can be found as the rule_foreach sugar given in examples/data.rkt. The paper presents this sugar in psuedocode that we believed would be a bit easier to read than the rule_foreach code (which had to be expressed as a Redex term), but the correspondence should be clear.

Haskell List Comprehensions

The Haskell List Comprehension sugars can also be found in examples/data.rkt. They are named rule_hlc-guard, rule_hlc-gen, and rule_hlc-let. The syntax mapping between the Redex terms (in the implementation) and Haskell (in the paper) is:

Haskell       Redex
~~~~~~~       ~~~~~
[e | Q]       (hlc e Q)
b, Q          (hlc/guard b Q)
p <- l, Q     (hlc/gen p l Q)
let x = e, Q  (hlc/let x = e in Q)

Newtype

The newtype sugar is named rule_newtype and can be found in examples/exists.rkt. The syntax matches the paper quite closely.

Figure 6: Letrec, λret, and Upcast

The "upcast" example is named rule_upcast in examples/subtype.rkt.

The "letrec" example is named rule_letrec in examples/lambda.rkt.

The "rule_λret" example is named rule_λret in examples/data.rkt.

Examples in the paper

Additionally, there are a few examples of type resugaring described in prose in the paper:

  • t-and from section 2 is tested in examples/arith.rkt. Note that, for expository purposes, the derivation shown in the paper is simplified. (You can view this with view-sugar-simplified-derivations.)
  • t-or from section 2 is tested in examples/data.rkt.
  • sugar-or-1 and sugar-or-2 from section 4.5 are tested in examples/multi.rkt.