Type-Safe Linking and Modular Assembly Language


Linking is a low-level task that is usually vaguely specified, if at all, by language definitions. However, the security of web browsers and other extensible systems depends crucially upon a set of checks that must be performed at link time. Building upon the simple, but elegant ideas of Cardelli, and module constructs from high-level languages, we present a formal model of typed object files and a set of inference rules that are sufficient to guarantee that type safety is preserved by the linking process.

Whereas Cardelli's link calculus is built on top of the simply-typed lambda calculus, our object files are based upon typed assembly language so that we may model important low-level implementation issues. Furthermore, unlike Cardelli, we provide support for abstract types and higher-order type constructors - features critical for building extensible systems or modern programming languages such as ML.

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