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Relational Parametricity for Computational Effects

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Executive Summary

According to Strachey, a polymorphic program is parametric if it applies a uniform algorithm independently of the type instantiations at which it is applied. The notion of relational parametricity, introduced by Reynolds, is one possible mathematical formulation of this idea. Relational parametricity provides a powerful tool for establishing data abstraction properties, proving equivalences of datatypes, and establishing equalities of programs. Such properties have been well studied in a pure functional setting. Many programs, however, exhibit computational effects, and are not accounted for by the standard theory of relational parametricity. In this paper, the authors develop a foundational framework for extending the notion of relational parametricity to programming languages with effects.

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