The Sequential Semantics of Producer Effect Systems

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Author: Ross Tate


Effects are fundamental to programming languages. Even the lambda calculus has effects, and consequently the two famous evaluation strategies produce different semantics. As such, much research has been done to improve our understanding of effects. Since Moggi introduced monads for his computational lambda calculus, further generalizations have been designed to formalize increasingly complex computational effects, such as indexed monads followed by layered monads followed by parameterized monads. This succession prompted us to determine the most general formalization possible. In searching for this formalization we came across many surprises, such as the insufficiencies of arrows, as well as many unexpected insights, such as the importance of considering an effect as a small component of a whole system rather than just an isolated feature. In this paper we present our semantic formalization for producer effect systems, which we call a productor, and prove its maximal generality by focusing on only sequential composition of effectful computations, consequently guaranteeing that the existing monadic techniques are specializations of productors.

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