First Advisor

Mark P. Jones

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

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


Computer Science




Haskell, Programming languages, Safety, L4, Operating systems (Computers), Memory management (Computer science), Garbage collection (Computer science)



Physical Description

1 online resource (xx, 321 p.) : ill. (some col.)


Purely functional languages--with static type systems and dynamic memory management using garbage collection--are a known tool for helping programmers to reduce the number of memory errors in programs. By using such languages, we can establish correctness properties relating to memory-safety through our choice of implementation language alone. Unfortunately, the language characteristics that make purely functional languages safe also make them more difficult to apply in a low-level domain like operating systems construction. The low-level features that support the kinds of hardware manipulations required by operating systems are not typically available in memory-safe languages with garbage collection. Those that are provided may have the ability to violate memory- and type-safety, destroying the guarantees that motivate using such languages in the first place. This work demonstrates that it is possible to bridge the gap between the requirements of operating system implementations and the features of purely functional languages without sacrificing type- and memory-safety. In particular, we show that this can be achieved by isolating the potentially unsafe memory operations required by operating systems in an abstraction layer that is well integrated with a purely functional language. The salient features of this abstraction layer are that the operations it exposes are memory-safe and yet sufficiently expressive to support the implementation of realistic operating systems. The abstraction layer enables systems programmers to perform all of the low-level tasks necessary in an OS implementation, such as manipulating an MMU and executing user-level programs, without compromising the static memory-safety guarantees of programming in a purely functional language. A specific contribution of this work is an analysis of memory-safety for the abstraction layer by formalizing a meaning for memory-safety in the presence of virtual-memory using a novel application of noninterference security policies. In addition, we evaluate the expressiveness of the abstraction layer by implementing the L4 microkernel API, which has a flexible set of virtual memory management operations.


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Portland State University. Dept. of Computer Science

Persistent Identifier