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These abstracts are for talks at this event.

NEPLS is a venue for ongoing research, so the abstract and supplemental material associated with each talk is necessarily temporal. The work presented here may be in a state of flux. In all cases, please consult the authors' Web pages for up-to-date information. Please don't refer to these pages as a definitive source.

Bottom-up beta-reduction: uplinks and lambda-DAGs

Olin Shivers (Georgia Institute of Technology)

Thoughts on Subtypes vs. Inheritance

Kim Bruce (Williams College)

As long ago as the mid-1980's, language researchers recognized that
subtyping and inheritance were different concepts.  Yet nearly all
popular object-oriented languages have conflated the two concepts.  My
recent research (discussed at NEPLS in the summer of 2002) on
simultaneous specialization of mutually recursive classes has helped
me understand better the differences between these two concepts.  In
this talk I will discuss these differences and highlight the
differences using examples involving multiple classes and types.
While my thoughts are based on research in types and semantics, the
points that I want to make are more conceptual or even philosphical.

My paper, Some challenging typing issues in object-oriented languages, provides an overview of problems related to simultaneous specialization of mutually recursive collections of classes.

Which Security Policies Can Rewriters Enforce?

Kevin Hamlen (Cornell University)

Modern software must balance the purveyance of desired program
behaviors (features) with the prohibition of unacceptable
behaviors. Opportunities to protect against such unacceptable
behaviors arise both prior to program execution and during
execution. Checking an untrusted program prior to execution requires a
static analysis that accepts or rejects the program in finite
time. Accepted programs are then executed without restriction while
rejected programs are not run at all. In contrast to static analyses,
Execution Monitors (EM's) protect against unacceptable program
behaviors by monitoring untrusted programs as they execute. If the
untrusted program attempts to perform an unacceptable action, it is
halted or some other corrective action is taken. Work by Schneider has
shown that Execution Monitors can enforce only security policies that
are safety properties.

We consider a third class of security policies: those that can be
enforced by a program-rewriter. A program-rewriter modifies a program
before it is executed so that (1) the rewritten program always
satisfies the desired security policy, and (2) if the original program
already satisfied the security policy, the rewritten program's
behavior is semantically equivalent to the original's. We show that
program-rewriters can enforce security policies that are not
enforceable by any Execution Monitor. In addition, we show that
Execution Monitors cannot enforce all safety properties. Rather, they
can only enforce those safety properties that are also enforceable by
program-rewriters. The result of our analysis is a taxonomy of
enforceable security policies.

This talk presents work done in collaboration with Greg Morrisett (Harvard University) and Fred Schneider (Cornell University). A tech report version of our paper can be found here.

TStreams, a New Language for Parallel Computation

Carl Offner (HP Cambridge Research Lab)

Current languages for parallel programming have the following

   * They specify particular parts of a program that can be executed
   in parallel.  Any other parts are not assumed to be parallel.

   * The type of parallelism supported by each language is specific to
   that language.  For instance, it may be data parallel or task

In contrast, TStreams provides a way of specifying the inherent
constraints on parallelism in a program. There is only one kind of
constraint: all producer-consumer relations must be honored.  Any
computations not ordered by these constraints can be executed in
parallel.  In this way, TStreams represents all forms of parallelism
in a program (including, for instance, pipelined parallelism) without
regard to the target architecture. TStreams therefore gives the
programmer the ability to express a parallel algorithm in its most
natural form.

TStreams can be viewed as a combination of functional programming,
tuple spaces, and streaming, but with important differences from each.

TStreams can be viewed either as a language which the programmer can
write in directly, or as an intermediate form which is generated from
ordinary serial code in any conventional language.  TStreams form can
either be interpreted directly or compiled into code targeted to
arbitrary parallel architectures.

In our current prototype the programmer writes in TStreams, the
TStreams code is interpreted, and the TStreams interpreter runs on a
cluster of SMPs.

Joint work with Kath Knobe (HP Cambridge Research Lab) and Alex Nelson
(HP High Performance Technical Computing).

Example-Centric Programming

Jonathan Edwards (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

One reason programming is so hard is that programs are intricate
abstractions. We best learn and understand abstractions through
examples. Accordingly when we read or write code we often have in mind
specific examples of how it will execute. This research seeks to make
these examples explicit and concrete within an IDE, leveraging the
abstraction capabilities of programmers, and making programming

Unit tests are a good source of examples. Even lighter-weight examples
can take the form of snippets of code making calls. The basic idea is
to instrument and execute these examples in the background and use the
resulting trace to illuminate the source code within the editor. Two
visual metaphors are being explored: directly annotating values into
the source view itself; and a tree browser of the execution trace that
is synchronized with the source editor. The illusion that the entire
execution history is browsable in arbitrary detail is supported by
re-instrumenting and re-executing on demand.

The ideal is that all code is illuminated by some example, and that
one never needs to leave this example-enlightened code editor. The
exploration made possible by REPL shells is subsumed in this
interface. Unit testing is also subsumed and made automatic. Debugging
of examples and tests can be done without leaving the editor, just by
browsing and inspecting. Eliminating the need to mode-switch into
these other tools may improve the workflow of programming.

Examples may be decorated with _assertions_ that freeze the current
value of an expression and henceforth check that it remains the same.
This allows examples to grow into unit tests without coding. Examples
may also be decorated with _assumptions_ that force an expression to
take a value. This allows externalities to be simulated without
complex mock-up code. These assertions and assumptions can be applied
to an arbitrary expression in an arbitrary call in the execution trace
of an example. This supports intrusive testing, probing into the
internals of the code to insert test values and check test results. A
research question is how well such deep tests serve as a kind of
scaffolding within which programs are constructed.

This research may cast new light on the old debate between static and
dynamic types. Static types catch some errors at compile-time and also
provide semantic assistance in the IDE (e.g. call-tips). Examples can
largely provide the same benefits even with dynamically typed
languages. Actual execution instances being available at "edit-time"
vitiates the compile-time/run-time dichotomy at the heart of type

A prototype is being implemented for Java in the Eclipse IDE. This
will be demonstrated, accompanied by hand-waving over the unfinished

Reintroducing Modules into an Object-Oriented Language

Christopher Diggins

In several object oriented programming languages, certain older
effective software design techniques have been abandoned but then
reintroduced indirectly through other new features which are perhaps
less appropriate. In this talk we use the Heron programming language
to show how by re-introducing a module construct into an object
oriented programming language we can simplify the complexity of
objects and classes.

For an outline of the talk, see http://www.heron-language.com/modular-programming.html.
More information on the Heron language, including an informal specification, can be found at http://www.heron-language.com

Exploiting Purity for Atomicity

Stephen Freund (Williams College)

The notion that certain procedures are atomic is a fundamental
correctness property of many multithreaded software systems.  A
procedure is atomic if for every execution there is an equivalent
serial execution where the actions of the atomic procedure are not
interleaved with actions of other threads.  Several existing tools
verify atomicity by showing that every execution reduces to a
corresponding serial execution.  However, experiments with these tools
have highlighted a number of interesting procedures that, while
intuitively atomic, are not reducible.

In this talk, we exploit the notion of pure code blocks to verify the
atomicity of such irreducible procedures.  If a pure block terminates
normally, then its evaluation does not change the program state, and
hence these evaluation steps can be removed from the program trace
before reduction.  We develop a static analysis for atomicity based on
this insight, and we illustrate this analysis on a number of
interesting examples that could not be verified using earlier tools
based purely on reduction.  These techniques may also be applicable in
other approaches for verifying atomicity, such as via software model
checking or dynamic analysis.

This is joint work with Cormac Flanagan (University of California, Santa Cruz) and Shaz Qadeer (Microsoft Research). For more information on this project, see our atomicity web page.

Programming Examples Needing Polymorphic Recursion

J. J. Hallett (Boston University)

Inferring types for polymorphic recursive function definitions
(abbreviated to polymorphic recursion) is a recurring topic on the
mailing lists of popular typed programming languages. This is despite
the fact that type inference for polymorphic recursion using
forall-types has been proved undecidable.  This report presents
several programming examples involving polymorphic recursion and
determines their typability under various type systems, including the
Hindley-Milner system, an intersection-type system, and extensions of
these two.  The goal of this report is to show that many of these
examples are typable using a system of intersection types as an
alternative form of polymorphism.  By accomplishing this, we hope to
lay the foundation for future research into a decidable
intersection-type inference algorithm.

We do not provide a comprehensive survey of type systems appropriate
for polymorphic recursion, with or without type annotations inserted
in the source language.  Rather, we focus on examples for which types
may be inferred without type annotations, with an emphasis on systems
of intersection-types.

This talk presents work done in collaboration with Assaf Kfoury (Boston University). Our paper on this work can be found at The Church Project.

Encoding Regions

Matthew Fluet (Harvard University)

The region calculus, first introduced by Tofte and Talpin, has a
fairly complicated type-and-effects system that is used to ensure that
pointers into deallocated storage are never dereferenced.  In a
separate line of research, Launchbury and Peyton-Jones introduced
monads as a mechanism by which imperative (and otherwise "effectful")
constructs can be safely integrated into pure functional languages.
We demonstrate that the type system of the region calculus can be
encoded in the polymorphic lambda calculus augmented with monadic
types and operations.  The encoding is based upon a generalization of
the ST monad and likewise presents an encapsulation operator whose
parametric type ensures that regions (and values allocated therin) are
neither accessible nor visible outside the appropriate scope.

This paper appeared in SPACE'04 and is available from the workshop website: http://www.diku.dk/topps/space2004/

Relating Backtracking Monads

Dale Vaillancourt (Northeastern University)

There are two well-known models of backtracking computation: the
stream model and the two-continuation model.  The stream model treats
backtracking computations with a stream of possible answers, and the
two-continuation model uses a success continuation and a failure
continuation.  Hughes [2000] defined a "backtracking monad" to be a
monad with additional operations "disj" and "fail" satisfying 5
additional axioms.  Both the stream model and the two-continuation
model are backtracking monads, but this fact does not give us any
deeper relation between the two.

Past attempts to relate these models have met with limited success:
either the types do not work out, or the relation works in one
direction but not the other, or the relation does not work for
higher-order values.

We show how to relate the monads in a simple way.  We relate streams
of scalars using a representation inspired by Danvy et al. [2001].  We
then extend this to higher-order values using logical relations.  At
observable types this turns into the identity relation, so we get a
denotational equivalence between the values in each model.  All of
this is done with only elementary mathematics; no category theory is

This talk presents work done in collaboration with Mitchell Wand (Northeastern University).

Enforcing Static Access Control with Guarded/Asserting Types

Sa Cui (Boston University)

Access control is a security mechanism to protect resources of the 
local system from untrusted agents. The Java Security Architecture
(JSA) provides a dynamic mechanism to support access control by
performing stack inspection at run-time. In contrast to JSA, there
are also approaches that have been proposed to support access
control statically, which can avoid potentially high run-time
overhead of stack inspection. For instance, in the type system of
$\lambda_{SEC}$, certain access control policies can be enforced
through statically type checking.

In this paper, we propose an approach to supporting static access
control through the use of guarded and asserting types. The notion
of guarded and asserting types can be traced back to the work on
restricted form of dependent types (as is developed in DML) and
guarded recursive datatypes. This notion has since been formalized
in the framework Applied Type System (ATS). We show that guarded
and asserting types can also be used in a natural manner to cope
with the issue of static access control. In particular, we are to
translate $\lambda_{SEC}$ into a calculus that essentially extends
simply typed lambda calculus with guarded and asserting types.

Intersection Types: Idempotent is Potency

Peter Neergaard (Brandeis University)

Intersection type systems realize a finite polymorphism where the
different typings for a term are itemized explicitly (as a contrast
to the parametric polymorphism of ML and Haskell).  We analyze
System I which is a prototype system developed as part of the Church
project.  It embodies an intersection type system with a strict
intersections---they lack associativity, commutativity, and
idempotent, i.e., a /\ (b /\ c) <> (a /\ b) /\ c, a /\ b <> b /\ a,
and a /\ a <> a.  It also employs the novel technology of expansion
variables to facilitate modular program composition and flow

We establish two interesting results:
- we draw a tight connection between intersection types and linear
  logic and interaction nets.

- we prove that the problem of type inference is always synonymous
  with normalization: the normal form can be obtained from the
  principal typing and vice versa.  Type inference is thus as costly
  as running the program.  The key to this result is that
  simply-typed terms must be linear without idempotent.

  We note that with idempotent (and associativity and
  commutativity), we regain the usual nonelementary power of
  simply-typed terms.  For programming language people the
  conclusion is that idempotent (which is usually present in typed
  programming language) is crucial for type inference being faster
  than running the program.

Last modified Tuesday, February 10th, 2004 1:12:55pmPowered by PLT