Type Inference with Bounded Quantification
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In this thesis we study some of the problems which occur when type inference is used in a type system with subtyping. An underlying poset of atomic types is used as a basis for our subtyping systems. We argue that the class of Helly posets is of significant interest, as it includes lattices and trees, and is closed under type formation not only with structural constructors such as function space and list, but also records, tagged variants, Abadi-Cardelli object constructors, top and bottom. We develop a general theory relating consistency, solvability, and solution of sets of constraints between regular types built over Helly posets with these constructors, and introduce semantic notions of simplification and entailment for sets of constraints over Helly posets of base types. We extend Helly posets with inequalities of the form a <= tau, where tau is not necessarily atomic, and show how this enables us to deal with bounded quantification. Using bounded quantification we define a subtyping system which combines structural subtype polymorphism and predicative parametric polymorphism, and use this to extend with subtyping the type system of Laufer and Odersky for ML with type annotations. We define a complete algorithm which infers minimal types for our extension, using factorisations, solutions of subtyping problems analogous to principal unifiers for unification problems. We give some examples of typings computed by a prototype implementation.