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Showing posts from 2006

Call by Name (CBN) is dual to Call By Value (CBV)

Probably one of the best papers I've read on the relationship between CBN, CBV and the Curry-Howard correspondance is the paper Call-by-value is dual to call-by-name by Wadler. The calculus he develops for describing the relationship shows an obvious schematic duality that is very visually appealing. After reading the paper that I mentioned earlier on Socially Responsive, Environmentally Friendly Logic (which shall henceforth be called SREF Logic), it struck me that it would be interesting to see what a CPS (Continuation-passing Style) like construction looks like in SREF logic, so I went back to the Wadler paper to see if I could figure out how to mimic the technique for multi-player logic. It looks like the formulation by Wadler comes out directly by thinking about logic as a two player game! I'm excited to see what happens with n-player logic. This has been a big diversion from what I'm actually suppose to be working on but I didn't want to forget about it :)…

Brain Dump

I have a bunch of ideas that I don't have time to follow up on but I'd like to retain in some fashion so here goes.

1.

A long time ago I had a question about the shortest assembly program (parameterised by the instruction set of course!) that could encode the generators of the quaternions under multiplication. It is a very easy thing to program this, but as I was doing it, I found myself being highly doubtful that I was choosing the "right" encoding. In fact I almost certainly wasn't. Would there not be some very tight encoding in terms of "normal" assembly language operators? This has been a persistent question in my mind that comes up frequently in different and often more general forms. If you want to make a fast compiler, how do you know what instructions to output? If you have a highlevel specification, how can you avoid the ridiculously high overhead usually associated with extremely high level languages?

Today I found this fabulous paper…

On partial evaluation (and other meta-compilers)

So after a bit of research it turns out that the big reason that we don't have a meta-compiler compiler generator project because sophisticated partial evaluators are pretty much never self applicable.  As far as I can tell from the literature the Futamura projections in the context of logic programming have only ever been applied in practice on "off-line" partial evaluators.  Off-line partial evaluators tend to be much less sophisticated since they do most of their reasoning "off-line", that is, without attempting to unfold.

Apparently part of the reason for this is the use of extra-logical features in the sophisticated partial evaluators, in order to make them fast enough that they can reasonably be applied.  It is hard to make performant prolog without using cut.  Once cut is used however, all bets are off, since it is nearly impossible to reason about effectively.

I started writing my meta-compiler without using cut, but restricting myself to soft-cut, becau…

Plotkin, the LGG and the MGU

Legend has it that a million years ago Plotkin was talking to his professor Popplestone, who said that unification (finding the most general unifier or the MGU) might have an interesting dual, and that Plotkin should find it. It turns out that the dual *is* interesting and it is known as the Least General Generalisation (LGG). Plotkin apparently described both the LGG for terms, and for clauses. I say apparently because I can't find his paper on-line.

The LGG for clauses is more complicated so we'll get back to it after we look at the LGG of terms. We can see how the MGU is related to the LGG by looking at a couple of examples and the above image. We use the prolog convention that function symbols start with lower case, and variables start with uppercase. The image above is organised as a DAG (Directed Acyclic Graph). DAGs are a very important structure in mathematics since DAGs are lattices.

Essentially what we have done is drawn an (incomplete) Hasse diagram f…

More Questions than Answers

Code transformation or meta-compilation as it is sometimes called (which is the general notion of techniques including Partial Evaluation, Supercompilation, Deforestation, or my advisors Distillation), is a powerful technique in computer programming. The benefits (and drawbacks) are almost certainly not sufficiently studied.

I was just conversing with my room-mate Tom about meta-compilation and I made the supposition that Meta-compilers are somewhat like the technology of the lathe. There are a huge number of technologies that require a lathe in order to be produced efficiently. A lathe can be viewed as a major nexus in the dependency graph of machining technology. A lathe is an almost a completely fixed precondition for the mill. The Mill is the crux of modern machining. It allows you to construct almost any currently available machined part. Without the mill we really wouldn't have the industrial age at all. Do such things exist in computer programming?

Metacompiler tec…

Strategies for automatic translation

I've been hacking away at my program to test a theory I have about machine translation. I wrote a bit about it in a previous post but I was fairly vague. I thought I'd describe in more detail exactly how the technique would work (I'm still in phase 1).

The idea is simple. The first phase is to take a corpus in a language. Take each sentence of the source (or some other sized chunk, currently I'm limited by computational tractability to a single sentence) and recombine each element of the sentence into every possible string of n-grams. If you play with it a bit you'll realise that there are 2(N-1) of these for a string of size N. One way to think about it is that there are N-1 indexes into the spaces between words in the string. You can then think of each sentence as being a collection of indexes at which we combine words. This is obviously the power set of the set of indexes {1,2,3...N-1} and hence there are 2(N-1). It turns out however that it is nice t…

Cut Elimination

I was thinking about cut elimination on my way back from work today due in large part to a post on the cut rule made by sigfpe on A Neighborhood of Infinity.

It occured to me that the fact that cut-free proofs can be so tremendously much larger than the cut-full ones and that directly constructing cut-full proofs is so difficult is a bit strange. It seems somehow unfair.

As I was thinking about this I realised that one could find cut-free proofs automatically and then reduce them with reverse cut-elimination to produce extremely cutfull proofs. These proofs should be very economical computationally. If one keeps the terms that correspond with the proofs along side, one should be able to obtain a source to source translation that might have performance benefits.

Another totally far-out idea came to me as well. Mathematicians often use lemmas repeatedly. Perhaps the process of finding cuts is generally useful. Specifically, if a lemma is useful in simplifying one proof, mayb…

A Theory of Science

As you might know, I like logics. Notice that logic is in the plural. This might seem a bit strange to you. It certainly seems a bit strange to me. How can it be that there is more than one?

There are quite a number of logics at this point. We pretty much started out with Aristotelian logic, ie. the logic of syllogism which you were probably forced to study in school. Aristotelian logic was formalised and generalised during the early part of last century and this formalism has come to be called Classical Logic or often just CL.

This formalisation caused some to view with suspicion the outcome of various formal arguments. It gave rise to a more conservative 'constructive' logic which we will call Intuisionistic (or IL) whose informal interpretation is known as the Brouwer-Heyting-Kalmagorov interpretation or BHK.

Basically in Classical logic you can make proofs about things for which you can not provide examples. This also happens however in Intuisionistic logic fo…

Proof Theory

Thanks to my brother I got a really cool book on proof theory called "Basic Proof Theory". It has a bunch of nice features including a from the ground up presentation of proof theory that should be relatively accesible to anyone with a background in mathematics. It demonstrates some of the connections provided by the Curry-Howard correspondance (which is my favourite part of the book) . It also describe Second order logic, which is great because I've had very little formal exposure to this. Second order logic is really beautiful since you can define all the connectives in terms of ∀, ∀2 and →. If you pun ∀ and ∀2 you have a really compact notation.

The book also forced me to learn some things I hadn't wrapped my head around. One of those was Gentzen style sequent calculus. This really turns out to be pretty easy when you have a good book describing it. I've even wrote a little sequent solver (in lisp) since I found the proofs so much fun. The first orde…