rusttyc 0.3.2

A library for writing type checkers with a lattice-like type system in rust.



What is RustTyC?

RustTyC provides an interface that allows for an intuitive translation of inference rules based on a Hindney-Milner-like bounded type meet-semilattice into rust code.


The first and most obvious step is to add the dependency to your Cargo.toml:

rusttyc = "^0.3.1"

Next, let's talk data structures. I assume you already have some code data structure representing programs you want to type-check. We'll call this the AST. Then, you need some representation of types, which we'll call AbsTy. Most likely, this is an enum listing all possible types a value can have, including unresolved types (Top/Unconstrained/Infer), abstract types (Numeric) and recursive type (Option(Box<AbsTy>) or Either(Box<AbsTy>, Box<AbsTy>)).

To obtain a lattice structure, implement the rusttyc::Abstract type. This entails that you implement the Abstract::meet(&self, &Self) -> Result<Self, Self::Err> function. Just as expected, it takes two abstract types and provides a new one according to the rules for type lattices. If the two types are incompatible, it returns an error with some debug information. The type checker will enrich the error with some more context information to make it easily traceable.

What's left to do now is to start collecting constraints. In your code, create a new type checker with rusttyc::TypeChecker::new() and traverse your AST. For each node in the AST create a rusttyc::TcKey and impose a set of constraints on it. The key represents either a node of the AST (whatever this may be) or a variable. The special point of variables is that they might occur several times in the AST and refer to the same object. There are several ways to handle this challenge, the by far easiest is to let the type checker take care of it. For this, call the TypeChecker::get_var_key(&mut self, var: Var) -> TcKey function. Calling this function multiple times with the same variable will return the same key; for your convenience.

Assume the AST is the tree representation of c := a + 3. You'll want to traverse the tree by recursively calling a tc_ast function. Assume tc is the type checker and the function returns a Result<TcKey, TcErr<AbsTy>> where the key is the key containing the type of the node. We'll discuss the nodes bottom to top. The first node is the variable a. There's not much to do here, just retrieve a key for a and return it: Ok(tc.get_var_key(var)). Next is the integer literal 3. Assume such a literal should bind the value to the type AbsTy::Unsigned. Thus, use:

let key = tc.new_term_key();  // Generate a fresh key.
tc.impose(key.more_conc_than_explicit(AbsTy::Unsigned))?;  // Set an explicit abstract type as bound for `key`.

Now the interesting part: performing the addition. The idea is to check both sub-terms recursively, meet their types, and return the result.

let left = tc_expr(&mut tc, lhs);
let right = tc_expr(&mut tc, rhs);
let key = tc.new_term_key();
tc.impose(key.is_sym_meet_of(left, right))?;

Well, that was simpler than expected, eh?

Let's wrap up by assigning the value. For this, we recursively check the expression, retrieve the key for c and equate it with the result of the expression.

let res = tc_expr(rhs);
let key = tc.get_var_key(lhs);

And that's it! Retrieve the result of the whole procedure by generating a type table.

let type_table = tc.type_check()?;

(A-)Symmetric Relations

One thing that needs some clarification is symmetric and asymmetric type relations. RustTyc offers to impose both kinds of relations. A symmetric relation between two keys k, and k' entails that a refinement of one also refines the other. Suppose k is in an asymmetric relation with k', e.g. k is more concrete than k'. In this case, refining the type of k' entails a refinement of k, but not vice versa. A regular meet (TcKey::is_meet_of(...)) is inherently asymmetric, the symmetric counterpart is TcKey::is_sym_meet_of(...). Similarly, for binary relations we have TcKey::is_more_conc_than(...) (asymmetric) and TcKey::equate(...) (symmetric).