FreezeML: Complete and Easy Type Inference for First-Class Polymorphism

04/01/2020 ∙ by Frank Emrich, et al. ∙ 0

ML is remarkable in providing statically typed polymorphism without the programmer ever having to write any type annotations. The cost of this parsimony is that the programmer is limited to a form of polymorphism in which quantifiers can occur only at the outermost level of a type and type variables can be instantiated only with monomorphic types. Type inference for unrestricted System F-style polymorphism is undecidable in general. Nevertheless, the literature abounds with a range of proposals to bridge the gap between ML and System F. We put forth a new proposal, FreezeML, a conservative extension of ML with two new features. First, let- and lambda-binders may be annotated with arbitrary System F types. Second, variable occurrences may be frozen, explicitly disabling instantiation. FreezeML is equipped with type-preserving translations back and forth between System F and admits a type inference algorithm, an extension of algorithm W, that is sound and complete and which yields principal types.

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