; 1; Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences; New York University; 1
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In the last ten years declaration-free programming languages with a polymorphic typing discipline (ML, B) have been developed to approximate the flexibility and conciseness of dynamically typed languages (LISP, SETL) while retaining the safety and execution efficiency of conventional statically typed languages (Algol68, Pascal). These polymorphic languages can be type checked at compile time, yet allow functions whose arguments range over a variety of types. We investigate several polymorphic type systems, the most powerful of which, termed Milner-Mycroft Calculus, extends the so-called let-polymorphism found in, e.g., ML with a polymorphic typing rule for recursive definitions. We show that semi-unification, the problem of solving inequalities over firstorder terms, characterizes type checking in the Milner-Mycroft Calculus to polynomial time, even in the restricted case where nested definitions are disallowed. This permits us to extend some infeasibility results for related combinato...