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Embedding an object calculus in the unifying theories of programming

Michael Anthony Smith


Hoare and He's Unifying Theories of Programming (UTP) provides a rich model of programs as relational predicates. This theory is intended to provide a single framework in which any programming paradigms, languages, and features, can be modelled, compared and contrasted. The UTP already has models for several programming formalisms, such as imperative programming, higher-order programming (e.g. programing with procedures), several styles of concurrent programming (or reactive systems), class-based object-orientation, and transaction processing. We believe that the UTP ought to be able to represent all significant computer programming language formalisms, in order for it to be considered a unifying theory. One gap in the UTP work is that of object-based object-orientation, such as that presented in Abadi and Cardelli's untyped object calculi (sigma-calculi). These sigma-calculi provide a prominent formalism of object-based object-oriented (OO) programs, which models programs as objects. We address this gap within this dissertation by presenting an embedding of an Abadi–Cardelli-style object calculus in the UTP. More formally, the thesis that his dissertation argues is that it is possible to provide an object-based object rientation to the UTP, with value- and reference-based objects, and a fully abstract model of references. We have made three contributions to our area of study: first, to extend the UTP with a notion of object-based object orientation, in contrast with the existing class-based models; second, to provide an alternative model of pointers (references) for the UTP that supports both value-based compound values (e.g. objects) and references (pointers), in contrast to existing UTP models with pointers that have reference-based compound values; and third, to model an Abadi-Cardelli notion of an object in the UTP, and thus demonstrate that it can unify this style of object formalism.

University of Oxford