A Flexible Type System for Fearless Concurrency
Mae Milano, Joshua Turcotti, and Andrew C. Myers

PLDI 2022
June 2022, San Diego, California, USA


This paper proposes a new type system for concurrent programs, allowing threads to exchange complex object graphs without risking destructive data races. While this goal is shared by a rich history of past work, existing solutions either rely on strictly enforced heap invariants that prohibit natural programming patterns or demand pervasive annotations even for simple programming tasks. As a result, past systems cannot express intuitively simple code without unnatural rewrites or substantial annotation burdens. Our work avoids these pitfalls through a novel type system that provides sound reasoning about separation in the heap while remaining flexible enough to support a wide range of desirable heap manipulations. This new sweet spot is attained by enforcing a heap domination invariant similarly to prior work, but tempering it by allowing complex exceptions that add little annotation burden. Our results include: (1) code examples showing that common data structure manipulations which are difficult or impossible to express in prior work are natural and direct in our system, (2) a formal proof of correctness demonstrating that well-typed programs cannot encounter destructive data races at run time, and (3) an efficient type checker implemented in Gallina and OCaml.

The final paper is not yet ready for distribution. It will be made available from this page.