December 2018 Meeting


17–18 December, 2018


LT 308, Huxley Building, Department of Computing, Imperial College London


Huxley building is within walking distance of South Kensington and Gloucester Road Underground stations. See Travel information for details.


Monday 17th December

10:00-10:30Vasco Vasconcelos - Label Dependent Session Types
10:30-11:00Francisco Ferreira - Engineering the Meta-Theory of Session Types
11:00-11:30Coffee break
11:30-12:00Mariangiola Dezani - Global Types with Internal Delegation
12:00-12:30Laura Bocchi - Time-sensitive protocols design and implementation
13:30-14:00Simon Castellan - Two sides of the same coin: Session Types and Game Semantics
14:00-14:30Nobuko Yoshida - On Polymorphic Sessions and Functions
14:30-15:00Wen Kokke - Rusty Variation: Deadlock-free sessions with failure in Rust
15:00-15:30Coffee break
15:30-16:00David Castro - Algebraic Multiparty Protocol Programming
16:00-16:30Dominic Orchard - Expressive Session Types via Graded Modal Types
16:30-16:40Short break
16:40-17:00Simon Gay - Multiparty Session Types for Safe Runtime Adaptation in an Actor Language
17:00-17:30Stefano Lande - Design and verification of Bitcoin smart contracts with BitML
18:30-Dinner at Jakobs

Tuesday 18th December

9:45-10:15Alceste Scalas - Effpi: concurrent programming with dependent behavioural types
10:15-10:45Rumyana Neykova - A Session Type Provider: Compile-time API Generation for Distributed Protocols with Interaction Refinements in F#
10:45-11:00Nicholas Ng - Type-safe interactive web services generation from Scribble
11:00-11:30Coffee break
11:30-12:00Julien Lange - An empirical study of message passing concurrency in Go projects
12:00-12:30Sung-Shik Jongmans - Distributed Programming using Role-Parametric Session Types in Go
13:30-14:00Status report
14:00-15:30Advisory board meeting (only industry partners and advisory board members)


Vasco Vasconcelos: Label Dependent Session Types

Session types have emerged as a typing discipline for communication protocols. Existing calculi with session types come with many different communication primitives that combine communication with the introduction or elimination of the transmitted value. We present a foundational session type calculus with a lightweight operational semantics. It fully decouples communication from the introduction and elimination of data and thus comes with a single communication reduction, namely the rendezvous between send and receive. We achieve this decoupling by introducing label dependent session types, a minimalist dependent session type system. The system is sufficiently powerful to simulate existing functional session type systems. The new calculus also enables the construction of a more flexible gradual session type system. It improves over previous work by enabling the less precisely typed side to rely solely on the send and receive communication primitives.

[Joint work with Peter Thiemann]

Francisco Ferreira: Engineering the Meta-Theory of Session Types

Formal proofs of the meta-theory of programming calculi are important tools to develop a trust-worthy theoretical base. The meta-theory of systems with session types is delicate and error prone. I will talk about an approach to mechanise such proofs in the Coq proof assistant. In particular, I want to discuss some subtle aspects around the adequacy around a particular choice of representation.

Mariangiola Dezani: Global Types with Internal Delegation

This paper investigates a new form of delegation for multiparty session calculi. Usually, delegation allows a session participant to appoint a participant in another session to act on her behalf.This means that delegation is inherently an inter-session mechanism, which requires session interleaving. Hence delegation falls outside the descriptive power of global types, which specify single sessions. As a consequence, properties such as deadlock-freedom or lock-freedom are difficult to ensure in the presence of delegation. Here we adopt a different view of delegation, by allowing participants to delegate tasks to each other within the same multiparty session. This way, delegation occurs within a single session (internal delegation) and may be captured by its global type. To increase flexibility in the use of delegation, our calculus uses connecting communications, which allow optional participants in the branches of choices. By these means, we are able to express conditional delegation. We present a session type system based on global types with internal delegation, and show that it ensures the usual safety properties of multiparty sessions, together with a progress property.

Laura Bocchi: Time-sensitive protocols design and implementation

Existing work on timed session types leaves a number of open problems. On the practical side, they are based on simple abstractions, and do not capture : (a) primitives used in the real world, like blocking receive primitives (with and without timeout), or (b) realistic abstractions for time consuming actions with variable, yet bound, durations. On the theoretical side, a notion of duality for in asynchronous timed interaction is missing. Duality would provide an answer to the question: “Given a timed asynchronous protocol for an endpoint, what is its natural counter-part?”. As I will show, this is a non-trivial question, and a naive extension of duality with asynchrony and time does not ensure the usual desirable properties of well-typed programs. I will present foundations of timed asynchronous duality, and provide a theory of timed asynchronous session types for a realistic calculus that caters for (a) and (b). Well-typedness guarantees communication safety and punctuality.

Simon Castellan: Two sides of the same coin: Session types and Game Semantics

Game semantics and session types are two formalisations of the same concept: message-passing open programs following certain protocols. Game semantics represents protocols as games, and programs as strategies; while session types specify protocols, and well-typed π-calculus processes model programs. Giving faithful models of the π-calculus and giving a precise description of strategies as a programming language are two difficult problems. In this paper, we show how these two problems can be tackled at the same time by building an accurate game semantics model of the session π-calculus.

Our main contribution is to fill a semantic gap between the synchrony of the (session) π -calculus and the asynchrony of game semantics, by developing an event-structure based game semantics for synchronous concurrent computation. This model supports the first truly concurrent fully abstract (for barbed congruence) interpretation of the synchronous (session) π-calculus. We further strengthen this correspondence, establishing finite definability of asynchronous strategies by the internal session π-calculus. As an application of these results, we propose a faithful encoding of synchronous strategies into asynchronous strategies by call-return protocols, which induces automatically an encoding at the level of processes. Our results bring session types and game semantics into the same picture, proposing the session calculus as a programming language for strategies, and strategies as a very accurate model of the session calculus. We implement a prototype which computes the interpretation of session processes as synchronous strategies.

Wen Kokke: Rusty Variation: Deadlock-free sessions with failure in Rust

This talk presents an implementation of deadlock-free sessions with failure in Rust, based on Exceptional GV by Fowler et al. We claim that it is a faithful implementation, which preserves much of EGVs metatheory. However, we depart from EGV in two major ways: First, EGV relies upon exceptions and handlers. Rust, however, has rejected exceptions in favour of monadic errors i.e., wrapping possibly failing results in error types such as Option<T> and Result<T,E>. Second, the core language of EGV does not include general recursion. Rust does. In the presence of non-termination, we cannot guarantee session fidelity, livelock freedom, or—well—termination.

Nobuko Yoshida: On Polymorphic Sessions and Functions

This work exploits the logical foundation of session types to determine what kind of type discipline for the π-calculus can exactly capture, and is captured by, λ-calculus behaviours. Leveraging the proof theoretic content of the soundness and completeness of sequent calculus and natural deduction presentations of linear logic, we develop the first mutually inverse and fully abstract processes-as-functions and functions-as-processes encodings between a polymorphic session π-calculus and a linear formulation of System F. We are then able to derive results of the session calculus from the theory of the λ-calculus: (1) we obtain a characterisation of inductive and coinductive session types via their algebraic representations in System F; and (2) we extend our results to account for value and process passing, entailing strong normalisation.

David Castro: Algebraic Multiparty Protocol Programming

Algebraic techniques for programming, i.e. constructive algorithmics or program calculation techniques, contributed significantly to diverse fields, such as datatype generic programming, program optimisation or parallel computing. Two major advantages of these techniques are their compositional nature and their rich equational theory for proving program equivalences. In the field of concurrent and distributed computing, the theory of multiparty session types (MPST) is used to specify the communication structure of message-passing systems, ensuring deadlock-freedom and protocol compliance. In this paper, we propose a novel algebraic view of protocol specification that offers several benefits: 1) a high-level algebraic specification can be interpreted both as a function and as a protocol; 2) the extensionality of protocols can be defined and used to prove when two protocols support equivalent computations; and, 3) the extracted protocol is deadlock-free by construction, and any code transformation is guaranteed to preserve deadlock-freedom by the MPST theory. We define an MPST-based coordination language, ParAlg, that can be used as an intermediate representation for compiling high-level specifications to low-level (parallel) code. This coordination language provides a global view of a concurrent/distributed system, that we use to explore the possible mappings of computations to specific participants (e.g. processes). We implement a prototype in Haskell, where we define the type of protocol generators and their combinators. This new framework enables exploring possible ways to parallelise functions. To illustrate this, we feed the generated protocols to an existing tool for generating parallel C code using the Message Passing Interface (MPI).

Dominic Orchard: Expressive Session Types via Graded Modal Types

Graded Modal Type Theory (GMTT) is a linear-by-default type theory with indexed families of modal types which can be used to track quantitative properties of programs. Using the usual technique of representing session types in linear types, GMTT can express session types but with much more expressive power than usual. I'll show two main examples (1) precisely bounded recursive session types (2) privacy tracking across communication. I will show these examples via real programs in Granule, a typed functional language in the style of ML/Haskell but with a graded modal type system.

Simon Gay: Multiparty Session Types for Safe Runtime Adaptation in an Actor Language

Authors: Paul Harvey, Simon Fowler, Ornela Dardha, Simon Gay

Pervasive computing touches a wide range of applications, including sensor networks, Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence, and is an essential part of everyday life. At the heart of pervasive computing is adaptation: the ability of a software component to sense and respond to its operating environment, by discovering, replacing, and communicating with other software components that are not part of the original system design. Unfortunately, current programming languages do not allow for adaptive software to be specified in a way that enforces the safety guarantees associated with strongly-typed programming. For example, if a new component is discovered at runtime, there is no guarantee that existing components can communicate with it correctly.

We finally solve this problem by using session types, a type formalism used to model communication protocols. By associating session types with software components, the discovery process can check protocol compatibility, and when required, correctly replace such components. Moreover, the use of session types throughout the software system design guarantees the correctness of all communication, whether or not it is adaptive. We present the design and implementation of EnsembleS, the first actor-based language with adaptive features and a static session type system. We apply it to a case study based on an adaptive domain name server (DNS). Finally, we formalise the type system of EnsembleS and prove the runtime safety of well-typed programs.

Stefano Lande: Design and verification of Bitcoin smart contracts with Bitml

Besides simple transfers of currency, Bitcoin also enables various forms of smart contracts, i.e. protocols where users interact within pre-agreed rules, which determine how currency is eventually distributed. I will introduce you to Bitcoin smart contracts using Bitml, a DSL that abstracts from transactions and the underlying computational model of Bitcoin. Then, I will show you how to verify a landmark security property of smart contracts, liquidity. In a non-liquid contract, it may happen that some funds remain frozen. The relevance of this issue is witnessed by a recent liquidity attack to the Ethereum Parity Wallet, which has frozen ∼160M USD within the contract, making this sum unredeemable by any user. The computational soundness of the BitML compiler allows to lift this result from the symbolic to the computational level: if our decision procedure establishes that a contract is liquid, then it will be such also under a computational adversary, and vice versa.

Alceste Scalas: Effpi: concurrent programming with dependent behavioural types

Concurrent and distributed programming is notoriously hard. Many languages and software toolkits address the challenge by offering high-level abstractions, such as message-passing processes and actors; they allow for intuitive reasoning, but do not formally ensure that a program implements a given specification.

I will talk about Effpi, a toolkit for strongly-typed concurrent programming in Dotty (a.k.a. Scala 3). Effpi allows to specify the intended behaviour of a message-passing application using types: i.e., if a program type-checks and compiles, then it will run and communicate as prescribed by its types.

The foundation of Effpi is a concurrent functional language with a novel blend of behavioural types (from the π-calculus theory), and a form of dependent types, extending to higher-order interaction (i.e., sending/receiving program thunks). This design has three main advantages. First, it allows to verify programs through a combination of type checking and model checking techniques. Second, it is directly implemented (via deep embedding) in Dotty, including a simplified API for strongly-typed actor-based programming. And third, its functional nature allows for an efficient runtime system, supporting highly concurrent programs with millions of interacting processes/actors.

Rumyana Neykova: A Session Type Provider: Compile-time API Generation for Distributed Protocols with Interaction Refinements in F#

We present a library for the specification and implementation of distributed protocols in native F# (and other .NET languages) based on multiparty session types (MPST). There are two main contributions. Our library is the first practical development of MPST to support what we refer to as interaction refinements: a collection of features related to the refinement of protocols, such as message-type refinements (value constraints) and value dependent control flow. A well-typed endpoint program using our library is guaranteed to perform only compliant session I/O actions w.r.t. to the refined protocol, up to premature termination.

Second, our library is developed as a session type provider, that performs on-demand compile-time protocol validation and generation of protocol-specific .NET types for users writing the distributed endpoint programs. It is implemented by extending and integrating Scribble (a toolchain for MPST) with an SMT solver into the type providers framework. The safety guarantees are achieved by a combination of static type checking of the generated types for messages and I/O operations, correctness by construction from code generation, and automated inlining of assertions.

We evaluate our library based on several well-known protocols and algorithms. Our experience shows that our type-driven approach considerably simplifies the development of protocols, with negligible increase in compilation times.

Nicholas Ng: Type-safe interactive web services generation from Scribble

I will present a recent student project where we used Scribble and the functional programming language PureScript targetting WebSocket/Javascript-based interactive web services.

Julien Lange: An empirical study of message passing concurrency in Go projects

Go is a popular programming language renowned for its good support for system programming and its channel message passing concurrency mechanism. These strengths have made it the language of choice of many platform software such as Docker and Kubernetes. In this talk, we present a study where we analysed 865 GitHub projects whose main language is Go in order to understand how message passing concurrency is used in publicly available code. Our results include the following findings: (1) message passing primitives are used frequently and intensively, (2) concurrency-related features are generally clustered in specific parts of a Go project, (3) most projects use synchronous communication channels over asynchronous ones, and (4) most Go projects use simple concurrent thread topologies, which are however unsupported by state-of-the-art static analyses.

Sung-Shik Jongmans: Distributed Programming using Role-Parametric Session Types in Go

This paper presents a framework for the static specification and safe programming of message passing protocols where the number and kinds of participants are dynamically instantiated. We develop the first theory of distributed multiparty session types (MPST) to support parameterised protocols with indexed roles—our framework statically infers the different kinds of participants induced by a protocol definition as role variants, and produces decoupled endpoint projections of the protocol onto each variant. This enables safe MPST-based programming of the parameterised endpoints in distributed settings: each endpoint can be implemented separately by different programmers, using different techniques (or languages). We prove the decidability of role variant inference and well-formedness checking, and the correctness of projection.

We implement our theory as a toolchain for programming such role-parametric MPST protocols in Go. Our approach is to generate API families of lightweight, protocol- and variant-specific type wrappers for I/O. The APIs ensure a well-typed Go endpoint program (by native Go type checking) will perform only compliant I/O actions w.r.t. the source protocol. We leverage the abstractions of MPST to support the specification and implementation of Go applications involving multiple channels, possibly over mixed transports (e.g., Go channels, TCP), and channel passing via a unified programming interface. We evaluate the applicability and run-time performance of our generated APIs using microbenchmarks and real-world applications.