Modeling Abstract Types in Modules with Open Existential Types

Modeling Abstract Types in Modules with Open Existential Types, by Benoît Montagu Didier Rémy:

We propose F¥, a calculus of open existential types that is an extension of System F obtained by decomposing the introduction and elimination of existential types into more atomic constructs. Open existential types model modular type abstraction as done in module systems. The static semantics of F¥ adapts standard techniques to deal with linearity of typing contexts, its dynamic semantics is a small-step reduction semantics that performs extrusion of type abstraction as needed during reduction, and the two are related by subject reduction and progress lemmas. Applying the Curry-Howard isomorphism, F¥ can be also read back as a logic with the same expressive power as second-order logic but with more modular ways of assembling partial proofs. We also extend the core calculus to handle the double vision problem as well as type-level and term-level recursion. The resulting language turns out to be a new formalization of (a minor variant of) Dreyer’s internal language for recursive and mixin modules.

This approach to existentials seems to considerably improve their power and simplify their use. It also brings us one step closer to first-class modules!