Graph Types

Nils Klarlund and Michael I. Schwartzbach


Recursive data structures are abstractions of simple records and pointers. They impose a shape invariant, which is verified at compile-time and exploited to automatically generate code for building, copying, comparing, and traversing values without loss of efficiency. However, such values are always tree shaped, which is a major obstacle to practical use.

We propose a notion of graph types, which allow common shapes, such as doubly-linked lists or threaded trees, to be expressed concisely and efficiently. We define regular languages of routing expressions to specify relative addresses of extra pointers in a canonical spanning tree. An efficient algorithm for computing such addresses is developed. We employ a second-order monadic logic to decide well-formedness of graph type specifications. This logic can also be used for automated reasoning about pointer structures.