Gradual Type Theory
Gradually typed languages are designed to support both dynamically typed and statically typed programming styles while preserving the benefits of each. While existing gradual type soundness theorems for these languages aim to show that type-based reasoning is preserved when moving from the fully static setting to a gradual one, these theorems do not imply that correctness of type-based refactorings and optimizations is preserved. Establishing correctness of program transformations is technically difficult, because it requires reasoning about program equivalence, and is often neglected in the metatheory of gradual languages.
In this paper, we propose an axiomatic account of program equivalence in a gradual cast calculus, which we formalize in a logic we call gradual type theory (GTT). Based on Levy’s call-by-push-value, GTT gives an axiomatic account of both call-by-value and call-by-name gradual languages. Based on our axiomatic account we prove many theorems that justify optimizations and refactorings in gradually typed languages. For example, uniqueness principles for gradual type connectives show that if the $\beta\eta$ laws hold for a connective, then casts between that connective must be equivalent to the so-called “lazy” cast semantics. Contrapositively, this shows that “eager” cast semantics violates the extensionality of function types. As another example, we show that gradual upcasts are pure functions and, dually, gradual downcasts are strict functions. We show the consistency and applicability of our axiomatic theory by proving that a contract-based implementation using the lazy cast semantics gives a logical relations model of our type theory, where equivalence in GTT implies contextual equivalence of the programs. Since GTT also axiomatizes the dynamic gradual guarantee, our model also establishes this central theorem of gradual typing. The model is parametrized by the implementation of the dynamic types, and so gives a family of implementations that validate type-based optimization and the gradual guarantee.