Copenhagen Programming Language Seminar

Shifting the Stage: Staging with Delimited Control

Chung-chieh Shan
Rutgers, State University of New Jersey

Monday, November 3, 2008, 15:30-16:30
DIKU South, Njalsgade 128, 2300 Copenhagen S, Room 24.5.62


It is often hard to write programs that are efficient yet reusable. For example, an efficient implementation of Gaussian elimination should be specialized to the structure and known static properties of the input matrix. The most profitable optimizations, such as choosing the best pivoting or memoization, cannot be expected of even an advanced compiler because they are specific to the domain, but expressing these optimizations directly makes for ungainly source code. Instead, a promising and popular way to reconcile efficiency with reusability is for a domain expert to write code generators.

Two pillars of this approach are types and effects. Typed multilevel languages such as MetaOCaml ensure safety: a well-typed code generator neither goes wrong nor generates code that goes wrong. Side effects such as state and control ease correctness: an effectful generator can resemble the textbook presentation of an algorithm, as is familiar to domain experts, yet insert let for memoization and if for bounds-checking, as is necessary for efficiency. However, adding effects blindly renders multilevel types unsound.

We introduce the first two-level calculus with control effects and a sound type system. We give small-step operational semantics as well as a continuation-passing style (CPS) translation. For soundness, our calculus restricts the code generator's effects to the scope of generated binders. Even with this restriction, we can finally write efficient code generators for dynamic programming and numerical methods in direct style, like in algorithm textbooks, rather than in CPS or monadic style.

(Joint work with Yukiyoshi Kameyama and Oleg Kiselyov.)

Scientific host:Torben Mogensen Administrative host: Annette Enggaard. All are welcome.
The Copenhagen Programming Language Seminar (COPLAS) is a collaboration between DIKU, ITU, KVL and RUC.
COPLAS is sponsored by the FIRST Graduate School.
To receive information about COPLAS talks by email, send a message to prog-lang-request@mail.it-c.dk with the word 'subscribe' as subject or in the body.

For more information about COPLAS, see http://www.coplas.org