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The involutions-as-principal types/application-as-unification Analogy

17 pagesPublished: October 23, 2018


In 2005, S. Abramsky introduced various universal models of computation based on Affine Combinatory Logic, consisting of partial involutions over a suitable formal language of moves, in order to discuss reversible computation in a game-theoretic setting. We investigate Abramsky’s models from the point of view of the model theory of λ-calculus, focusing on the purely linear and affine fragments of Abramsky’s Combinatory Algebras.
Our approach stems from realizing a structural analogy, which had not been hitherto pointed out in the literature, between the partial involution interpreting a combinator and the principal type of that term, with respect to a simple types discipline for λ-calculus. This analogy allows for explaining as unification between principal types the somewhat awkward linear application of involutions arising from Geometry of Interaction (GoI).
Our approach provides immediately an answer to the open problem, raised by Abram- sky, of characterising those finitely describable partial involutions which are denotations of combinators, in the purely affine fragment. We prove also that the (purely) linear combinatory algebra of partial involutions is a (purely) linear λ-algebra, albeit not a combinatory model, while the (purely) affine combinatory algebra is not. In order to check the complex equations involved in the definition of affine λ-algebra, we implement in Erlang the compilation of λ-terms as involutions, and their execution.

Keyphrases: games, Geometry of Interaction, lambda calculus, reversible computations

In: Gilles Barthe, Geoff Sutcliffe and Margus Veanes (editors). LPAR-22. 22nd International Conference on Logic for Programming, Artificial Intelligence and Reasoning, vol 57, pages 254--270

BibTeX entry
  author    = {Alberto Ciaffaglione and Furio Honsell and Marina Lenisa and Ivan Scagnetto},
  title     = {The involutions-as-principal types/application-as-unification Analogy},
  booktitle = {LPAR-22. 22nd International Conference on Logic for Programming, Artificial Intelligence and Reasoning},
  editor    = {Gilles Barthe and Geoff Sutcliffe and Margus Veanes},
  series    = {EPiC Series in Computing},
  volume    = {57},
  pages     = {254--270},
  year      = {2018},
  publisher = {EasyChair},
  bibsource = {EasyChair,},
  issn      = {2398-7340},
  url       = {},
  doi       = {10.29007/ntwg}}
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