Tim Sheard

Date of Award

Spring 6-6-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Computer Science


Computer Science

Physical Description

1 online resource (x, 273 pages)


Generic programming (Computer science), Type theory, Source code (Computer science), Curry-Howard isomorphism




Dependently typed programming languages allow the type system to express arbitrary propositions of intuitionistic logic, thanks to the Curry-Howard isomorphism. Taking full advantage of this type system requires defining more types than usual, in order to encode logical correctness criteria into the definitions of datatypes. While an abundance of specialized types helps ensure correctness, it comes at the cost of needing to redefine common functions for each specialized type. This dissertation makes an effort to attack the problem of code reuse in dependently typed languages. Our solution is to write generic functions, which can be applied to any datatype.

Such a generic function can be applied to datatypes that are defined at the time the generic function was written, but they can also be applied to any datatype that is defined in the future. Our solution builds upon previous work on generic programming within dependently typed programming.

Type theory supports generic programming using a construction known as a universe. A universe can be considered the model of a programming language, such that writing functions over it models writing generic programs in the programming language. Historically, there has been a trade-off between the expressive power of the modeled programming language, and the kinds of generic functions that can be written in it. Our dissertation shows that no such trade-off is necessary, and that we can write future-proof generic functions in a model of a dependently typed programming language with a rich collection of types.

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