A DSL for describing and implementing communication protocols
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README.md

Protocols

A DSL for describing and implementing communication protocols. For example, given two parties 'A' and 'B', a protocol in which 'A' sends a String to 'B' and receives an integer back could be described as follows:

aToB : Protocol ['A, 'B] ()
aToB = do 'A ==> 'B | String
          'B ==> 'A | Int
          Done

The type Protocol xs t describes a communication protocol between the parties xs, finally returning something of type t. The notation 'A ==> 'B | t means that party A sends a value of type t to party B.

Implementations of the parties A and B can be achieved as follows:

a : Agent IO aToB 'A ['B := bchan] [STDIO] ()
a = do sendTo 'B "Hello"
       answer <- recvFrom 'B
       putStrLn (show answer)

b : Agent IO aToB 'B ['A := achan] [STDIO] ()
b = do str <- recvFrom 'A
       sendTo 'A (length str)

These are programs in the 'Effects' DSL. It is a type error if either implementation does not follow its side of the protocol correctly. Any additional effects required (such as STDIO here) can also be listed. This means that a protocol implementation can also invoke other effects, manage state, etc, provided that the protocol operations themselves are carried out in the correct order, and to completion.

The Agent type lets us specify which party of the protocol is being implemented, and list the handles which allow it to communicate with the other parties (e.g. 'A := achan, etc).

Since Protocol is an embedded DSL, it follows that we can write more complex protocols where later interactions depend on the results of earlier interactions. For example:

data Command = Add | Multiply | Negate

mathsServer : Protocol ['Client, 'Server] ()
mathsServer = do cmd <- 'Client ==> 'Server | Command
                 case cmd of
                      Add => do 'Client ==> 'Server | (Int, Int)
                                'Server ==> 'Client | Int
                                Done
                      Multiply => 
                             do 'Client ==> 'Server | (Int, Int)
                                'Server ==> 'Client | Int
                                Done
                      Negate =>
                             do 'Client ==> 'Server | Int
                                'Server ==> 'Client | Int

How communication is handled in practice is independent of the protocol DSL, and depends on an effect handler being implemented for a particular context.

The library currently includes an effect handler which supports communication between concurrent processes. See test/UtilServer and test/Stream for some simple examples.