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Foundations for structured programming with GADTs
 Conference record of the ACM SIGPLANSIGACT Symposium on Principles of Programming Languages
, 2008
"... GADTs are at the cutting edge of functional programming and become more widely used every day. Nevertheless, the semantic foundations underlying GADTs are not well understood. In this paper we solve this problem by showing that the standard theory of data types as carriers of initial algebras of fun ..."
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Cited by 22 (4 self)
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GADTs are at the cutting edge of functional programming and become more widely used every day. Nevertheless, the semantic foundations underlying GADTs are not well understood. In this paper we solve this problem by showing that the standard theory of data types as carriers of initial algebras of functors can be extended from algebraic and nested data types to GADTs. We then use this observation to derive an initial algebra semantics for GADTs, thus ensuring that all of the accumulated knowledge about initial algebras can be brought to bear on them. Next, we use our initial algebra semantics for GADTs to derive expressive and principled tools — analogous to the wellknown and widelyused ones for algebraic and nested data types — for reasoning about, programming with, and improving the performance of programs involving, GADTs; we christen such a collection of tools for a GADT an initial algebra package. Along the way, we give a constructive demonstration that every GADT can be reduced to one which uses only the equality GADT and existential quantification. Although other such reductions exist in the literature, ours is entirely local, is independent of any particular syntactic presentation of GADTs, and can be implemented in the host language, rather than existing solely as a metatheoretical artifact. The main technical ideas underlying our approach are (i) to modify the notion of a higherorder functor so that GADTs can be seen as carriers of initial algebras of higherorder functors, and (ii) to use left Kan extensions to trade arbitrary GADTs for simplerbutequivalent ones for which initial algebra semantics can be derived.
Initial algebra semantics is enough
 Proceedings, Typed Lambda Calculus and Applications
, 2007
"... Abstract. Initial algebra semantics is a cornerstone of the theory of modern functional programming languages. For each inductive data type, it provides a fold combinator encapsulating structured recursion over data of that type, a Church encoding, a build combinator which constructs data of that ty ..."
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Cited by 8 (5 self)
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Abstract. Initial algebra semantics is a cornerstone of the theory of modern functional programming languages. For each inductive data type, it provides a fold combinator encapsulating structured recursion over data of that type, a Church encoding, a build combinator which constructs data of that type, and a fold/build rule which optimises modular programs by eliminating intermediate data of that type. It has long been thought that initial algebra semantics is not expressive enough to provide a similar foundation for programming with nested types. Specifically, the folds have been considered too weak to capture commonly occurring patterns of recursion, and no Church encodings, build combinators, or fold/build rules have been given for nested types. This paper overturns this conventional wisdom by solving all of these problems. 1
Representing Cyclic Structures as Nested Datatypes
"... We show that cyclic structures, i.e., finite or possibly infinite structures with backpointers, unwindable into possibly infinite structures, can be elegantly represented as nested datatypes. This representation is free of the various deficiencies characterizing the more naive representation as mixe ..."
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Cited by 5 (0 self)
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We show that cyclic structures, i.e., finite or possibly infinite structures with backpointers, unwindable into possibly infinite structures, can be elegantly represented as nested datatypes. This representation is free of the various deficiencies characterizing the more naive representation as mixedvariant datatypes. It is inspired by the representation of lambdaterms as a nested datatype via the de Bruijn notation. 1
Haskell Programming with Nested Types: A Principled Approach
, 2009
"... Initial algebra semantics is one of the cornerstones of the theory of modern functional programming languages. For each inductive data type, it provides a Church encoding for that type, a build combinator which constructs data of that type, a fold combinator which encapsulates structured recursion ..."
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Initial algebra semantics is one of the cornerstones of the theory of modern functional programming languages. For each inductive data type, it provides a Church encoding for that type, a build combinator which constructs data of that type, a fold combinator which encapsulates structured recursion over data of that type, and a fold/build rule which optimises modular programs by eliminating from them data constructed using the build combinator, and immediately consumed using the fold combinator, for that type. It has long been thought that initial algebra semantics is not expressive enough to provide a similar foundation for programming with nested types in Haskell. Specifically, the standard folds derived from initial algebra semantics have been considered too weak to capture commonly occurring patterns of recursion over data of nested types in Haskell, and no build combinators or fold/build rules have until now been defined for nested types. This paper shows that standard folds are, in fact, sufficiently expressive for programming with nested types in Haskell. It also defines build combinators and fold/build fusion rules for nested types. It thus shows how initial algebra semantics provides a principled, expressive, and elegant foundation for programming with nested types in Haskell.