Display NeXT/a/home/taxus/palsberg/paper/scp91/doc.dvi To appear in Science of Computer Programming . Static Typing for
Ob ject-Oriented Programming Jens Palsberg Michael I. Schwartzbach palsberg@daimi.aau.dk mis@daimi.aau.dk Computer Science Department
Aarhus University
Ny Munkegade
DK-8000
\027
Arhus C, Denmark Abstract We develop a theory of statically typed object-oriented languages. It represents
classes as labeled, regular trees, types as finite sets of classes, and subclassing as
a partial order on trees. We show that our subclassing order strictly generalizes
inheritance, and that a novel genericity mechanism arises as an order-theoretic complement. This mechanism, called class substitution, is pragmatically useful and can
be implemented efficiently. 1 Introduction Object-oriented programming is becoming widespread. Numerous programming languages supporting object-oriented concepts are in use, and theories about object-oriented
design and implementation are being developed and applied [21, 3, 14].
An important issue in object-oriented programming is to obtain reusable software components [30]. This is achieved through the notions of object , class , inheritance , late binding ,
and the imperative constructs of variables and assignments . Such features are found for
example in the Smalltalk language [25] in which a large number of reusable classes have
been written. Smalltalk , however, is untyped. Though this is ideal for prototyping and
exploratory development, a static type system is required to ensure that programs are
readable, reliable, and efficient.
This paper studies an idealized subset of Smalltalk , equipped with a novel static type
system. Our analysis results in the definition of a new genericity mechanism, called class
substitution, which we prove to be the order-theoretic complement of inheritance.
In the following section we briefly review the benefits of static typing. We argue that the
choice of finite sets of classes as types can provide exactly those benefits. Furthermore,
in this setting subtyping can be seen to be simply set inclusion . Finally, we compare this
notion of type with others that have been proposed.
In Section 3 we outline the example language. It is an idealized subset of Smalltalk , in
which variables and parameters are declared together with types. The language has been
1 simplified by the omission of blocks; instead, a primitive if-then-else is provided. We also
give precise requirements for static correctness of programs, and introduce a mathematical
framework in which we represent classes as labeled, regular trees . These representations
abstract away from class names.
In Section 4 we discuss inheritance and its interaction with mutually recursive classes.
We also show that a program using inheritance can be transformed into one which does
not.
In Section 5 we structure the class representations with a partial order which generalizes
inheritance. The intuition behind the order is that a subclass may extend the implementation and redefine the types consistently, while preserving the recursive structure of
the superclass. All such generalized subclass relationships can be exploited by an implementation to provide reusable software components. The suggested implementation is a
generalization of a na\177\020ve Smalltalk interpreter. We show that the partial order has
the same characteristic properties as its subset inheritance: it is decidable, has a least
element, has finite intervals, does not allow temporal cycles, and preserves subtyping.
In Section 6 we prove that the generalized subclassing order is strictly more powerful than
ordinary inheritance. We characterize the extra possibilities by showing that they form a
suborder which is an order-theoretic orthogonal complement to the suborder formed by
inheritance relationships.
In Section 7 we develop the orthogonal complement of inheritance into a programming
mechanism, called class substitution, which turns out to be a genericity mechanism. This
means that our simple type system, though voided of e.g. type variables, still supports
genericity. We extend the example language with syntax for class substitution, give
example programs, and compare with parameterized classes.
Finally, in Section 8 we use our framework to analyze the kind of type system which
is common in existing object-oriented languages, for example C++ and Simula / Beta .
The analysis yields an explanation of why these languages often allow loop-holes in the
type system or resort to run-time type-checking in some cases. 2 Types Types are advantageous because an untyped program may be unreadable, unreliable, and
inefficient. Any choice of type system for a language must be able to remedy some or all
of the above deficiencies [29].
Types may be used as annotations, and those can be read not only by humans but also
by the compiler which may be able to exhibit a safety-guarantee and perform compiletime optimizations. The safety-guarantee will typically state that operations are only
performed on arguments of the proper types; in other words, certain run-time errors will
not occur.
In this section we present a new, simple type system for object-oriented languages and we
argue why it yields the benefits stated above. We also examine other type systems and
discuss similarities and differences.
2 2.1 Types are Sets of Classes class Record var key: Integer method getKey returns Integer
key method setKey(k: Integer) returns Record
key := k ; self end Record class File var buffer: Record method initialize returns File
buffer := Record new ; buffer.setKey(17) ; self end File Figure 1: Records and Files.
The basic metaphor in object-oriented programming is the object . An object groups
together variables and procedures (called methods), and prevents direct outside access to
the variables; it may be thought of as a module [58]. Objects are instances of classes, see
for example figure 1. The class Record specifies a pattern from which all Record objects
will be created. Such an object is created for example in class File by the expression
" Record new " and it gets a separate copy of all variables. Note that also Integer is a class,
though specified elsewhere, and that each method returns the result of its last expression.
If nothing needs to be returned, then usually one returns the object itself, denoted by self .
The only possible interaction with an object is when sending a message to it|when
invoking one of its methods. For example, in class File the expression buffer.setKey(17) expresses the sending of the message setKey with argument 17 to the object in the variable buffer . If the object does not understand the message|if its class does not implement a
method with the specified name|then the run-time error messageNotUnderstood occurs.
In a pure object-oriented language this is the only run-time error that can occur.
The purpose of a type system is to allow the programmer to annotate programs with
information about which methods are available in a given object, and to allow the compiler to guarantee the the error messageNotUnderstood will never occur [4, 9]. The latter
immediately enables compile-time optimizations because a number of checks need not be
inserted into the code.
In Smalltalk , any object can be assigned to any variable. Message sending is implemented by late binding , i.e., the message send is dynamically bound to an implementation
depending on the class of the receiver. The fundamental question is: which messages will
an object residing in a variable be able to respond to? Ignoring the possibility of doing
flow analysis, the answer is: those methods that are common to the classes of the possible
objects in that variable. This set of methods can be specified by simply listing the classes
of the possible objects, because only finitely many classes occur in a given program. These
observations lead us to define the notion of type that will be analyzed throughout this
paper.
3 A type is a finite set of classes. Note that a type can only contain classes that are part of the program. This corresponds
to a "closed-world" assumption.
Our types are more general than they may seem at first. Any kind of type expressions
may be employed, providing that they can be interpreted as predicates on classes. In a
given program only finitely many classes will satisfy any given predicate. The type can
now be identified with the finite set; hence, we are justified in viewing our type system
as being quite general.
As an example of a type, consider again figure 1, where class File specifies a variable buffer of type Record . The type contains a single class, hence, only Record objects are allowed
to reside in the variable. 2.2 Subtyping is Set Inclusion An object may have more than one type. Consider for example an instance of class Record .
The singleton type containing just Record is a type of that instance, but so is also any
superset. Henceforth, we will call a superset for a supertype , and a subset for a subtype .
When type-checking an assignment x := e (and similarly for a parameter passing), then
it suffices to check that the static type of x is a supertype of the static type of e . This
is because the assignment then will not violate the requirement that only objects of the
static type of x can reside in x .
If we had a more advanced kind of type expressions, then subtyping must be defined to
coincide with|or at least to respect|inclusion of the corresponding sets.
The nil object requires special attention. In Smalltalk it is an instance of the class undefinedObject , and it is the initial contents of variables when objects are created. This
implies that we should want undefinedObject to be a member of all types. In this paper,
we do not want to rely on any predefined classes, however, so we will treat nil in another
way. Instead of having undefinedObject as an explicit member of all types, we will define nil to be a special primitive value which implicitly has the empty type and, hence, has all
types. Treating nil as a non-instance is in line with its implementation in typed languages
such as C++ [54], Eiffel [39], and Simula [22]/ Beta [32]. In the language we later
present, nil is in fact the only constant value. The language can be viewed as simply a
calculus of pointers, in which it is quite natural that nil should enjoy a special status. 2.3 Inheritance is Not Subtyping Object-oriented programming differs from other programming paradigms in offering inheritance as a means for reusing class definitions. Inheritance can be viewed as a shorthand:
it allows the definition of a class to be a modification of an existing one. More specifically, it allows the construction of subclasses by adding variables and methods, and by
overriding method bodies [25, 57]. A thorough discussion of inheritance is given in a later
section.
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object Figure 2: The class and type hierarchies (excerpts).
The difference between inheritance and subtyping is illustrated in figure 2 which displays
a class hierarchy discussed in [36], together with the corresponding type hierarchy. Notice
that we turn the class hierarchy "upside-down" in order to get the smallest class at the
bottom, and that the figure uses the notation " C for the set of all subclasses of C , even
potential ones. The class hierarchy is a tree , whereas the type hierarchy is a lattice .
Note that the Beta group has suggested interpreting nil as an instance of an auxiliary
class on top of the class hierarchy [36]. This is awkward because it implies that this
class can be obtained by some sort of multiple inheritance of all other classes. This again
implies that instances of this auxiliary class should be able to respond to any message;
clearly nil is not able to do this. Our explanation of nil as a value having the empty type
is more satisfactory: it reflects that nil can not respond to all messages, and that it can
be assigned to any variable. In the language we later present, nil "understands" only the
" if-then-else " message. 2.4 Other Type Systems Usually, formal models of typed object-oriented programming are based on the lambda
calculus. They represent objects as records and methods as functions, and involve coercions together with subtypes [10, 41], polymorphic types [40, 13, 23], or F -bounded
constraints [8, 15, 7] in the description of inheritance. In contrast, traditional objectoriented languages are not based on coercions and do not support methods as values.
Furthermore, the coercion models|while being very general in some respects|do not
support variables and assignments, because variable (mutable) types have no non-trivial
subtypes, as observed by Cardelli [11]. In a functional language, an assignment must be
emulated by the creation of an updated copy, and it is extremely hard to preserve the type
5 of the original value. It was long believed that bounded parametric polymorphism was
sufficient [13], but it has been realized that considerably more fine-grained type systems
are required to handle even simple updates [12].
Graver and Johnson's type system for Smalltalk [29, 27, 28] has much in common
with ours. Their types are essentially finite sets of classes, but they have to axiomatize a
subtype relation that corresponds exactly to set inclusion because the type system involves
type variables. They also employ a notion of signature type which essentially denotes the
finite set of subclasses of a given class, under our "closed-world" assumption.
One strength of our type system is that it can avoid type variables and exclusively use the
simple notion of sets of classes as types. The issue of genericity will instead be handled
by generalizing the notion of subclassing. 3 The Example Language (Program) P ::
= C 1 : : : C n E
(Class) C ::
= class ClassId var D 1 : : : D k M 1 : : : M n end ClassId
(Method) M ::
= method MethodId (D 1 : : : D k ) returns T E (Declaration) D ::
= Id : T
(Type) T ::
= [ selfClass ] ClassId 1 : : : ClassId n (Expression) E ::
= Id := E j E . MethodId (E 1 : : : E n ) j E ; E j if E then E else E j ClassId new j selfClass new j E instanceOf ClassId j self j Id j nil Figure 3: Syntax of the example language.
Our example language is an idealized subset of Smalltalk , except that variables and
parameters are declared together with a type, see figure 3. We also leave the issue of
inheritance to the following section. In this section we briefly discuss the semantics of the
language and state the precise rules for static correctness. We also introduce a convenient
representation of classes. 3.1 Informal Semantics A program is a set of classes followed by an expression whose value is the result of executing
the program. A class can contains variables and methods; a method consists of a name, an
argument-list, a result-type, and an expression. The result of an assignment is the assigned
value. A message send is executed by evaluating the receiver and the arguments, and if the
6 class of the receiver implements a method for the message, then a normal procedure call
takes place; otherwise, the error messageNotUnderstood occurs. The result of a sequence
is the result of the last expression in that sequence. The if-then-else expression tests if the
condition is nonnil . The expression " selfClass new " yields an instance of the class of self .
The expression "E instanceOf ClassId" yields a run-time check for class membership. If the
check fails, then the expression evaluates to nil . The expression self denotes the receiver
of the message, Id refers to instance variables and parameters, and nil is a primitive value.
Note that selfClass can always be replaced by the name of the enclosing class. This is a
convenient way of making recursion explicit. It is not sufficient for expressing mutually
recursive classes, however. For that, it is necessary to use the class names directly.
We have no primitive types (like integer and boolean) nor type constructors (like list)
because we can program classes that encode them, see [44].
Note that we ignore the issues of concurrency and persistence [56]. 3.2 Static Correctness We define correctness of a method body with respect to the name of the enclosing class,
and global and local environments. These can be uniquely determined from the program
syntax.
The global environment maps class names to class descriptions. A class description maps
method names to method descriptions. A method description maps argument numbers
to their declared types; for convenience, the result type is assumed to have number zero.
The local environment is a finite map from names of instance variables and parameters
to their declared types.
We shall use the notation E :: \034 to denote that the expression E is statically correct and has type \034 . This property will be
defined by means of a number of rules of the form ffl Condition 1 .
.
.
Condition k E :: \034 with the obvious interpretation: if all the conditions can be satisfied, then theconclusion follows.
The following rules exhaust the syntactic possibilities; the enclosing class has name C , the
global environment is denoted by G , and the local environment is denoted by E . ffl nil :: fg ffl self :: f C g 7 ffl selfClass new :: f C g ffl D new :: f D g ffl id 2 dom ( E ) early check Id :: E ( Id ) ffl E :: \034 E instanceOf D :: f D g ffl E i :: \034 i if E 1 then E 2 else E 3 :: \034 2 [ \034 3 ffl E i :: \034 i E 1 ; E 2 :: \034 2 ffl E :: \034 1 Id :: \034 2 \034 1 \022 \034 2 subtype check Id:=E :: \034 1 ffl E :: \034 E i :: \034 i 8 c 2 \034 : m 2 dom ( G c ) early check 8 c 2 \034 : dom ( G c m ) = f 0 ; : : : ; n g early check 8 c 2 \034 : \034 i \022 G c m i subtype check E . m(E 1 : : : E n ) :: S c 2 \034 G c m 0 Now, a program is statically correct when all method bodies have a typing in the corresponding environments.
Note that really only two kinds of checks are performed: ffl early checks , which require the existence of certain declared names. ffl subtype checks , which require inclusions between certain types.
With this definition of static correctness, it should be obvious that variables of type T can only contain objects of type T ; that if an expression is evaluated to a nonnil result,
then the class of that result is contained in the type of the expression; and that we can
guarantee that any message is sent to either nil or an instance of a class which implements
a method for that message. Note that we ignore keeping track of nil -values; this can be
treated separately by flow analysis.
A formal proof of these claims should be based on a dynamic semantics of the example
language [48, 31]. We will not go into the details in this paper, however, but move on to
define a convenient representation of classes.
8 3.3 Tree Representations of Classes We shall work with a slightly abstracted form of classes, which will allow us to give a
formal treatment of their relationships.
The mathematical framework is a kind of labeled trees, which we shall call L-trees. Definition 3.1: Let \006 be a finite alphabet. An L-tree over \006 is an ordered, nodelabeled, regular tree. We recall that a tree is regular when it has only finitely many different subtrees [20]. The labels are finite strings over \006 [ ffflg , where it is assumed that ffl 62 \006. The empty label is denoted by \012. We shall refer to the special symbol ffl as a gap .
It is further required that any node in an L-tree has exactly one subtree for each gap in
its label. 2 We have some notation associated with such trees. Definition 3.2: Let T be an L-tree. A tree address is a sequence of integers denoting a
path from the root to a node; each integer denotes the number of a subtree in the given
order. We write ff 2 T when ff is a valid tree address in T . The empty tree address is
denoted by \025 . If ff 2 T then T [ ff ] denotes the label with address ff in T , and T # ff denotes
the subtree of T whose root has address ff . Note that T # \025 = T . 2 We can now separate a class from its surrounding program and represent it as an L-tree.
Intuitively, the tree is a possibly infinite unfolding of the source code of the class.
The labels will be source code with gaps in place of occurrences of class names. Recall
that a class name may occur before new , after instanceOf , and inside type expressions.
We shall also replace occurrences of selfClass with gaps.
The root label of a class representation is the gapped source code of the class. Let the
classes in the program be C 1 , : : : , C n and the corresponding root labels be L 1 ; : : : ; L n . The
trees tree ( C 1 ), : : : , tree ( C n ) are defined through the following regular equation system: tree ( C 1 ) = L 1 (
\026 X 1 )
.
.
. tree ( C n ) = L n (
\026 X n )
Each
\026 X i is a list of subtrees, which is obtained as follows. Every subtree corresponds to
a gap in the label L i . If the gap replaced the class C j , then the subtree is tree ( C j ); if
the gap replaced selfClass , then the subtree is tree ( C i ). It is well-known that such an
equation system has a unique solution [19], which clearly is an L-tree. If any part of a
class is recursive, then the tree will be infinite.
Quite often, recursive types are represented as regular trees with nodes labeled by type
constructors [2]. This is in fact what we have done, with the proviso that we consider
9 every class as a user-defined type constructor |rather than as a user-defined type.
We have now abstracted away from the class names , which obviously cannot be uniquely
recovered. We can, however, transform a tree T back into an equivalent program, prog ( T ),
by selecting a class name for every different subtree in T and reconstructing the syntax.
The structural equivalence on classes simply says that two classes are equivalent if their
trees are equal.
It might be considered that the trees are not sufficiently abstract to deserve attention. For
instance, we distinguish the order in which methods are implemented, and type expressions are interpreted as sequences rather than sets. Some tidying up is certainly possible:
methods could be ordered in a canonical way, and type expressions could be normalized.
For the purposes of this paper, however, such improvements are not really necessary. We
shall mainly look at classes obtained as modifications of other classes, in which particular
arbitrary choices are always carried along. The behavior of a class, for example an element
of a Scott-domain, is clearly not a feasible representation|it is too abstract.
We can now define a universe of classes as follows: U = f tree ( C ) j C is a class in some statically correct program g This is a mathematical object on which we later shall observe an interesting structure. 3.4 Examples class Object end Object class A var x: Object end A class B var x: Object method set(y: Object) returns selfClass
x := y ; self end B Figure 4: Example classes.
We now provide some short examples of the above definitions. Consider the classes A and B in figure 4. Let us first consider what the corresponding trees look like. We shall use
the abbreviations L A = var x: ffl L B = var x: ffl method set(y: ffl ) returns ffl x :=y ; self The equation system for the trees is now
10 tree ( Object ) = \012() tree ( A ) = L A ( tree ( Object )) tree ( B ) = L B ( tree ( Object ) ; tree ( Object ) ; tree ( B )) \000
\000
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.
.
\012\012
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\012 \012 L B L B tree ( B ) = L B tree ( A ) =
\012 L A Figure 5: Example trees.
The corresponding trees are pictured in figure 5. We can finally observe that tree ( B )[3 ; 3 ; 2] = \012 tree ( B )[3 ; 3 ; 3] = L B 4 Inheritance Inheritance is reuse of class definitions. It may significantly increase programmer productivity and decrease source code size. In this section we add inheritance to our example
language, discuss its properties, and show that we can use the universe of class representations from the previous section to represent also the classes defined by inheritance. 4.1 Syntax To introduce inheritance we extend the grammar in figure 3 as showed in figure 6. (Class) C ::
= class ClassId inherits ClassId var D 1 : : : D k M 1 : : : M n end ClassId Figure 6: Syntax of Inheritance.
The class name following inherits is called the superclass of the class being defined; the
latter is called a subclass of the superclass.
The subclass is a modification of the superclass: it may add variables and methods, and if a
method name coincides with an existing one, then the new method definition overrides the
11 old one. The body of a new method definition may refer to both the existing variables and
the existing methods. It has been argued by Snyder [53] that much better encapsulation
is achieved if only the existing methods can be referred; we ignore this consideration in
this paper. For a denotational semantics of inheritance, see [16, 48, 31, 17]. 4.2 Properties Inheritance can be used in various ways, ranging from undisciplined code-grabbing to
disciplined program structuring based on a hierarchical design method [21, 3, 14, 30].
Common to all approaches is that the superclass is created before the subclass. We will
henceforth use the terminology that the subclass is temporally dependent on its superclass.
A class can be a subclass of another class which itself is defined by inheritance. The
chain of superclasses is always finite, however, because the program is finite. Also, the
superclass chain will contain no cycles; we will say that it is temporally acyclic . Note
that any non-empty class can be defined as a subclass of the empty class, which we will
call Object . This is actually enforced in Smalltalk . In this situation, the inheritance
hierarchy is a tree, otherwise it is a forest.
If C is the superclass and D is the subclass, then it is common to say that D is-a C [6, 55]. For example, if Student is a subclass of Person , then it seems reasonable to say
that Student is-a Person . It is convenient to let is-a denote the transitive closure of
this relation. The other possible relation between classes is has-a . If a class C declares
a variable of a type which contains the class D , then we will say that C has-a D . For
example, if the Student declares a graduate variable of type Boolean , then Student has-a Boolean . We will also say that C has-a D if C mentions D in a parameter list or as an
argument of new or instanceOf . Analogously with is-a , we let has-a denote the transitive
closure of this relation.
It is crucial not to confuse is-a and has-a . If C has-a D and D has-a C , then we will say
that C and D are mutually recursive. In comparison, it is impossible to have both C is-a D and D is-a C because that would be a temporal cycle. To make any sense, mutually
recursive classes must be defined simultaneously by the programmer.
Together, is-a and has-a impose a temporal order on the classes in a program. The
intuition is that a class D depends temporally on a class C if C has to be created before D . Formally, we can represent a program as a directed graph. The graph has one node for
every class definition in the program. Each node has a label which is the gapped source
code of the corresponding implementation. There will be two kinds of edges: is-a and has-a . We have an is-a edge from every subclass to its immediate superclass, and a has-a edge from every gap in the label to the node representing the missing class. We
can then define temporal dependency to be a path between two nodes containing at least
one is-a edge. A temporal dependency from D to C means that C must be created before D .
If the classes in a program contains no temporal cycles, then we will call it well-formed .
A well-formed program can be transformed into one which does not use inheritance, as
demonstrated below.
Our reason for doing this transformation is that when all classes are represented as ele12 ments of our universe of class representations, then it makes sense to analyze this universe
in order to discover other relations between classes besides is-a and has-a . Such relations will be independent both of class names and of the particular shorthands that can
be used in program texts. So far, the only shorthand we have encountered is inheritance,
but later on we will define another called class substitution. Pedersen [47] proposed the
notion of generalization which is the inverse of inheritance.
The loss of an explicit class hierarchy may at first seem to cause severe problems, since
some programming mechanisms depend on exactly this. In particular, we think about redefinition of method bodies in subclasses, and about the constructs super [25] and inner [33, 37]. However, these mechanisms depend primarily on the existence of multiple
implementations of methods. This we can certainly handle, since a label contains a
sequence of implementations of methods|several of which may have the same name.
The dynamic behavior of a message send is to search the label from right to left , and
to execute the first implementation of the method that is found. This gives the correct
semantics of method redefinitions. The construct super can be viewed as a directive to
search from the location of the present method implementation towards the left. Dually,
the construct inner directs the search to go from the present location towards the right.
This will nearly give the usual semantics, and is certainly in line with the explanation
given in [5].
When expanding the inheritance shorthand it is necessary to be careful when encountering
recursive occurrences of a class. A class C is recursive if C has-a C . If a class D inherits
this class C , then after expansion, all occurrences of C must have been transformed into D . The reason is that a variable of a type which contains C could be assigned to a
variable which contains selfClass . Since selfClass always denotes the class it appears in,
it will automatically denote D after the expansion. Hence, C must be transformed into D to preserve static correctness. The complications get worse when considering mutually
recursive classes; the algorithm in the following subsection gives a detailed solution to the
general case.
While it is often the natural choice to transform all recursive occurrences during inheritance, one can certainly find program examples where the opposite choice is preferable.
However, with our structural equivalence on classes recursive occurrences must be transformed in order to make the subclass statically correct. The problem could be solved
by introducing opacity operators on classes, in line with [43]. In this paper we will not
explore this aspect further. 4.3 The Expansion Algorithm We now present the algorithm that expands a program using inheritance into an equivalent
one that does not. The idea behind the algorithm is simple: it rewrites the program in
the same fashion that a programmer would have to if the class should be written in a
language that does not support inheritance.
Consider an inheritance specification B inherits A 13 where the classes A and B (except the " inherits A " part) are represented by the variables A 1 and B 1 in the following minimized regular equation systems: A 1 = L 1 (
\026 A )
.
.
. A n = L n (
\026 A ) B 1 = K 1 (
\026 B )
.
.
. B m = K m (
\026 B )
Then the expanded version of B is represented by the variable Z in the (not necessarily
minimized) regular equation system obtained as follows. Form the union of the equation
systems for A and B , remove the equations for A 1 and B 1 , add the equation Z = L 1 K 1 (
\026 A; \026 B )
and finally rename all occurrences of A 1 and B 1 into Z . class A var x: A end A class B inherits A var y: A var z: B end B Figure 7: Before expansion of inheritance.
This process is illustrated by the following simple example. Consider the classes in figure 7.
The minimized regular equations are as follows: A 1 = ( var x: ffl ) ( A 1 ) B 1 = ( var y: ffl var z: ffl ) ( B 2 ; B 1 ) B 2 = ( var x: ffl ) ( B 2 )
According to the algorithm, the regular equations for the expanded class are B 2 = ( var x: ffl ) ( B 2 ) Z = ( var x: ffl var y: ffl var z: ffl ) ( Z; B 2 ; Z )
which translates into the class in figure 8. Note how the recursion at x has been captured.
With this expansion algorithm at hand, we can now consider expanding programs where
more than one class is defined using inheritance. Given that a program contains no
temporal cycles, the classes can be sorted in temporal order and then expanded one by
one. For a detailed explanation and examples of this, see [46].
14 class A var x: A end A class B var x: B var y: A var z: B end B Figure 8: After expansion of inheritance. 5 Generalized Subclassing The main purpose of providing an independent notion of classes is to define a generalized,
structural notion of subclassing . This arises directly from the application on U of a partial
order on general L-trees. 5.1 A Generalized Interpreter In [45] we present a generalization of a na\177\020ve Smalltalk interpreter. This interpreter
supports inheritance through a method lookup |a run-time search for implementations
of methods. Our extended interpreter also does a run-time search for arguments to new and instanceOf operations. This allows a more general form of code reuse, which we can
express through a partial order / on classes. In [45] we give a precise description of the
run-time environments of the extended interpreter, and we show the following property:
if T 1 / T 2 holds, then any run-time implementation of T 1 can be extended to yield a runtime implementation of T 2 . The code reuse that can be expressed through inheritance
corresponds to a suborder of / .
In this section we shall define the partial order / and show a number of its formal properties. In the following sections we shall develop a programming mechanism that is complementary to inheritance; as we shall see, their combination realizes all of / . 5.2 A Partial Order on Trees Intuitively, the relation / imposes three different constraints on subclasses. Each of these
reflect that the subclass reuses the implementation of the superclass. ffl the labels may only be extended: this simply means that the subclass can only extend
the implementation and not modify existing parts. This also ensures that all early
checks will remain satisfied. ffl equal classes must remain equal: this ensures that all subtype checks will remain
satisfied; hence, the code of the superclass can only be reused in a manner that
preserves static correctness.
15 ffl the recursive structure must be preserved: this is essential for allowing the code to
be reused since different code is generated for selfClass and other classes [45].
The partial order / is our generalized notion of subclassing, such that if A is the superclass
and B is the subclass, then A / B . It may seem strange that super is smaller than sub ,
but this is a common confusion of terminology. Clearly, the subclass has a larger implementation than the superclass; equally clearly, the superclass is more general than the
subclass. We choose to retain the usual terminology, while employing the mathematically
suggestive ordering / .
To be able to define / formally, we introduce some auxiliary concepts. The first is a simple
partial order on L-trees. Definition 5.1: The usual prefix order on finite strings is written as \024 . The partial
order T 1 v T 2 on L-trees over \006 holds exactly when ffl 8 ff 2 T 1 : ff 2 T 2 ffl 8 ff 2 T 1 : T 1 [ ff ] \024 T 2 [ ff ]
Note that v is the node-wise extension of \024 . 2 The order v reflects that labels may only be extended. We next provide a simple, finite
representation of an L-tree. Proposition 5.2: Every L-tree T can be represented by a finite, partial, deterministic
automaton with labeled states, with language f ff j ff 2 T g , and where ff is accepted in a
state labeled T [ ff ]. Proof: The finitely many different subtrees all become accept states with the label of
their root. The transitions of the automaton are determined by the fan-out from the
corresponding root. 2 These automata provide finite representations of L-trees. The idea of representing a
regular tree as an automaton is also exploited in [51, 52]. All later algorithms will in
reality work on such automata. Proposition 5.3: The partial order v is decidable. Proof: The algorithm is a variation of the standard one for language inclusion on the
16 corresponding automata. 2 The second auxiliary concept is the notion of a generator for an L-tree. Definition 5.4: If T is an L-tree over \006, then its generator gen ( T ) is another L-tree
which is obtained from T by replacing all maximal, proper occurrences of T itself by a
singleton tree with the special label 3 ; it is assumed that 3 is incomparable with all other
labels in the \024 -ordering. We say that T is recursive when T 6 = gen ( T ). Note that the
generator itself may be an infinite tree, and that the original tree can readily be recovered
from its generator. 2 The generator of a class makes explicit all the recursive occurrences of the class itself. For
example, all occurrences of selfClass in its source code are replaced by 3 , but also mutual
recursion is captured.
We are now ready to define / using the order \026 which is a subset of v . Definition 5.5: The relation T 1 \026 T 2 on L-trees is the largest subset of v such that the
following stability condition holds ffl 8 ff; fi 2 T 1 : T 1 # ff = T 1 # fi ) T 2 # ff = T 2 # fi The relation T 1 / T 2 on L-trees holds exactly when ffl 8 ff 2 T 1 : gen ( T 1 # ff ) \026 gen ( T 2 # ff )
Note that if T 1 / T 2 then for any ff 2 T 1 we also have T 1 # ff / T 2 # ff . 2 Since \026 is a subset of v , it reflects that labels may only be extended. Furthermore, the
stability condition ensures that equal classes remain equal. The relation / is then defined
so that the generators at all levels are in the \026 relation. This ensures that the recursive
structure is preserved. Proposition 5.6: The relations \026 and / are decidable, partial orders. Proof: Clearly, \026 is a partial order since stability is reflexive and transitive; also, / is a
partial order because \026 is.
Since by proposition 5.3 we know that v is decidable, we must only show that stability is,
too. On minimized automata, representing the trees T 1 and T 2 , stability translates to the
property that any two words ff; fi accepted in the same state by the T 1 -automata must
also be accepted in the same state by the T 2 -automata. This property can be decided for
general automata using a simple, linear-time dynamic programming algorithm.
17 To decide / we can rely on decidability of \026 and the fact that L-trees have only finitely
many different subtrees, all of which can easily be constructed. 2 5.3 Properties The subclassing order / has the same characteristic properties as inheritance: it has a
least element, has finite intervals, does not allow temporal cycles, and preserves subtyping. In this subsection we prove these claims. Proposition 5.7: The partial order / has a least element ? . Proof: Clearly, ? is just the singleton tree with the label \012. 2 In a class hierarchy, ? corresponds to the empty class Object . To show that / has finite
intervals, we need a notion of unfolding directed graphs. Definition 5.8: Let G be a directed, rooted graph containing a path from the root to
each vertex. A particular unfolding of G , called unfold ( G ), is obtained by the following
variation of the standard depth-first search algorithm [1] starting in the root. The modification is that if the current edge leads to a previously visited vertex in a different strongly
connected component, then a fresh copy of that entire component is inserted in the graph.
See for example figure 9, where ( v 1 ; v 3 ) is the current edge. The graph unfold ( G ) can
be understood as a tree of possibly multiple copies of the strongly connected components
of G . 2 \022\021
\023\020
\022\021
\023\020
\022\021
\023\020
\022\021
\023\020
\022\021
\023\020
\022\021
\023\020
\022\021
\023\020
\022\021
\023\020
\022\021
\023\020
\022\021
\023\020 6 ? 6 ? 6 6 ? v 0 3 v 0 2 v 4 v 3 v 2 v 1 v 4 v 3 v 2 v 1 Figure 9: A step in the construction of unfold ( G ).
18 Lemma 5.9: A depth-first traversal of unfold ( G ) has the property that if the current
edge leads to a previously visited vertex, then that vertex is on a cycle of already processed edges and the current edge. Proof: Let ( v; w ) be the current edge. If we have previously visited w , then, by construction of unfold ( G ), v and w are in the same strongly connected component. Because
of the depth-first strategy, there is a path of already processed edges from w to v . The
result follows. 2 Proposition 5.10: For any L-tree T 2 the interval f T 1 j T 1 / T 2 g is finite. Proof: For the purposes of this proof, we shall represent L-trees by their canonical automata. This is obtained by subjecting the minimal automaton to the unfolding described
in definition 5.8. Clearly, this new automaton will have the same language and represent
the same L-tree; in particular, the L-tree can be recovered from the automaton.
Now, assume that T 1 / T 2 . Let A 1 and A 2 be their canonical automata. We shall construct
a total function h from states of A 1 to states of A 2 with the following properties ffl h maps the initial state of A 1 to that of A 2 ffl if x i ! y is a transition in A 1 , then h ( x ) i ! h ( y ) is a transition in A 2 ffl the label of x is \024 that of h ( x ) ffl h is injective
The construction works iteratively through a depth-first traversal of A 1 . At any stage the
current h will satisfy all of the above properties, but it may be partial. We start with just
the pair of initial states, which is clearly legal.
We proceed by examining the current unexplored depth-first A 1 -transition x i ! y from a
state x in the domain of h . This is matched by an A 2 -transition h ( x ) i ! z , since the label
of x is \024 than that of h ( x ). The function h is now extended to h 0 = h [ f y 7! z g . Only
two necessary properties are not immediate: that h 0 is still a function, and that h 0 is still
injective.
Assume that we have already seen y before; we must assure that z = h ( y ). Having seen y before means, from lemma 5.9, that we have a cycle from y to y . Now look at the
generator of the subtree of T 1 that corresponds to y . The cycle that we have traversed is
here a path from the root to a 3 -label. In the h ( y )-generator of T 2 the same path must
also lead to a 3 -label, since no other label can satisfy the v -requirement. Hence, the path
from y to y in A 1 translates to a path from h ( y ) to h ( y ) in A 2 . It follows that z = h ( y ).
Similarly, injectivity follows. If for some x 0 we have z = h ( x 0 ), then the cycle from z to z in A 2 must correspond to a cycle in A 1 , from which it follows that x = x 0 .
Since all states in a canonical automaton can be reached from the initial state, this
construction will terminate with a total function.
To proceed, we observe that the existence of any injective function from states of A 1 to
states of A 2 assures that there are no more states in A 1 than in A 2 . Since any label in
19 A 1 must be \024 than some label in A 2 , and we know that \024 has finite intervals, then any A 1 must be built out of a bounded number of states and a finite set of labels. For simple
combinatorial reasons, there can only be finitely many such automata.
Since different L-trees yield different canonical automata, the result follows. 2 In particular, this result means that any class can only have finitely many superclasses. Corollary 5.11: For any two L-trees T 1 ; T 2 the closed interval f S j T 1 / S / T 2 g is finite. Proof: This is just a subset of the finite interval in proposition 5.10. 2 Next, we can show that our generalized notion of subclassing does not allow any temporal
cycles. Since in our framework T 1 has-a T 2 iff 9 ff : T 1 # ff = T 2 and T 1 is-a T 2 iff T 2 / T 1 ^ T 2 6 = T 1 then, to eliminate temporal cycles of the form T has-a S is-a T , we must show that
no tree can be strictly / -less than one of its subtrees. Longer cycles are handled by
transitivity and essentially the same argument. A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
\001
\001
\001
\001
\001
\001
\001
\001
\001
\001
\001
B
B
B
B
B
B
\002
\002
\002
\002
\002
\002
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
\001
\001
\001
\001
\001
\001
\001
\001
\001
\001
\001
B
B
B
B
B
B
\002
\002
\002
\002
\002
\002 /
S
S 0 T
S Figure 10: A temporal cycle. Theorem 5.12: Let T by an L-tree and let S be a subtree of T . If T / S , then T = S . Proof: Suppose T / S and T 6 = S . Choose ff so that T # ff is a maximal occurrence of S in T . Let S 0 = S # ff . Then S / S 0 , as illustrated in figure 10. We will now show that S 6 = S 0 . Suppose S = S 0 . There are two cases. First, if the generator of S has a 3 -label in
position ff , then also T has a 3 -label in position ff . This implies T = S , a contradiction.
Second, if the generator of S does not have a 3 -label in position ff , then we can find a
maximal proper occurrence of S 0 in S . Let this occurrence be in position fi , where fi is a
proper prefix of ff . Thus, the generator of S has a 3 -label in position fi , so also T has a
20 3 -label in position fi . Suppose ff = fifl . Clearly, T # fl = S , contradicting that T # ff is a
maximal occurrence of S in T . We have thus proved that S 6 = S 0 . By iterating the above
construction we obtain a strictly / -increasing chain T / T # ff / T # ff 2 / # ff 3 / \001 \001 \001 / T # ff i / \001 \001 \001 This means that T has infinitely many different subtrees, contradicting its being an Ltree. 2 A final property can be phrased as the slogan subclassing preserves subtyping . Intuitively,
this means that subtype relationships will be preserved in subclasses. Proposition 5.13: A type expression in a class T consists of, say, n classes located as
the subtrees at addresses ff 1 ; ff 2 ; : : : ; ff n ; that is, the expression denotes the set A = f T # ff 1 ; T # ff 2 ; : : : ; T # ff n g Suppose also we have another type expression denoting the set B = f T # fi 1 ; T # fi 2 ; : : : ; T # fi m g and that the inclusion A \022 B holds. Let S be any subclass of T . We then have two
corresponding sets A 0 = f S # ff 1 ; S # ff 2 ; : : : ; S # ff n g B 0 = f S # fi 1 ; S # fi 2 ; : : : ; S # fi m g and we are guaranteed that the inclusion A 0 \022 B 0 will also hold. Proof: This follows immediately from the stability requirement on / . 2 5.4 Examples To illustrate the concepts introduced in this section we continue the example from subsection 3.4.
The automata corresponding to the classes A and B are shown in figure 11. We can also
observe that tree ( A ) v tree ( B ).
We next program two new classes C and D shown in figure 12. As before, we define L C = var h: ffl var t: ffl L D = var z: ffl The corresponding trees, shown in figure 13, are defined by the equations tree ( C ) = L C ( tree ( B ) ; tree ( C )) tree ( D ) = L C L D ( tree ( B ) ; tree ( D ) ; tree ( Object ))
21 &\045
'$
&\045
'$
&\045
'$
&\045
'$ 6 6 3
1 ; 2
1
\012 L B \012 L A Figure 11: Example automata. class C var h: B var t: selfClass end C class D inherits C var z: Object end D Figure 12: Example classes.
Let us show that tree ( C ) / tree ( D ). We have three different situations where a generator
in tree ( C ) must be \026 than a similar generator in tree ( D ). Examples of all three
situations are shown in figure 14. A tree that is \026 than tree ( D ) but not / is shown in
figure 15; it is not recursive, while tree ( D ) is. 6 The Orthogonality Result Inheritance is a programming mechanism which can realize only part of / ; more precisely,
it captures a suborder. A
A
A \001
\001
\001
A
A
A \001
\001
\001
Q
Q
Q
Q
Q \021
\021
\021
\021
\021
\000
\000
\000
@
@
@ A
A
A
\001
\001
\001
\001
\001
\001
A
A
A \012
.
.
.
.
.
.
\012
.
.
.
\012\012 L C L D L C L C L D L B tree ( D ) = tree ( C ) = L B L C \012 \012
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
. Figure 13: Example trees.
22 A
A
A \001
\001
\001
@
@
@
\000
\000
\000 \000
\000
\000@
@
@
\001
\001
\001 A
A
A
\001
\001
\001 A
A
A
A
A
A \001
\001
\001 gen ( tree ( C ) # 1 ; 2) = \012 \026 gen ( tree ( D ) # 1 ; 2) = \012 33 L B \026 L B .
.
.
\012\012 3 L B L C L C L D gen ( tree ( D ) # 1) = gen ( tree ( C ) # 1) = gen ( tree ( D )) = gen ( tree ( C )) = \026 L B 3 \012
\012 \012
.
.
.
\012 \012 \012\012 Figure 14: Relating generators. A
A
A
A
A
A
\001
\001
\001 \001
\001
\001
@
@
@
\000
\000
\000 \012\012 \012\012 \012 L B L C L C Figure 15: A non-recursive tree. 6.1 Two Suborders Definition 6.1: The partial order T 1 / I T 2 holds exactly when ffl T 1 / T 2 ^ 8 ff 2 T 1 : T 1 # ff 6 = T 1 ) T 1 [ ff ] = T 2 [ ff ]
This states that only the root label|and its recursive occurrences| may change. 2 The / I -part of / is just inheritance. Proposition 6.2: If C 1 is inherited by C 2 in any program, then tree ( C 1 ) / I tree ( C 2 ).
Conversely, if T 1 / I T 2 then any C 1 such that tree ( C 1 ) = T 1 can be modified by inheritance
to yield a C 2 such that tree ( C 2 ) = T 2 . Proof: Consider the isomorphism between L-trees and minimal equation systems. It is
quite easy to see that / I in this framework exactly captures the constructions performed
23 by the expansion algorithm. 2 The remaining part of / can be characterized in a satisfying manner: as an orthogonal
complement of / I , in the following sense. Definition 6.3: Let P be a partial order on a set S . We use the notation 4 ( S ) for
the diagonal f ( s; s ) j s 2 S g , and the notation A \003 for the reflexive, transitive closure of a
relation A . We write Q ? P R , if Q and R are partial orders such that Q " R = 4 ( S ) and
( Q [ R ) \003 = P . We call Q; R an orthogonal basis for P when ffl Q ? P R ffl Q 0 ? P R ) Q \022 Q 0 ffl Q ? P R 0 ) R \022 R 0 This generalizes the notion of basis in [26]. 2 For example, if ( S 1 ; \024 1 ) and ( S 2 ; \024 2 ) are partial orders, then \024 1 \002 4 ( S 2 ) and 4 ( S 1 ) \002 \024 2 form an orthogonal basis for \024 1 \002 \024 2 .
The remaining part of / can be captured by the following suborder. Definition 6.4: The partial order T 1 / S T 2 holds exactly when ffl T 1 / T 2 ^ T 1 [ \025 ] = T 2 [ \025 ]
This states that the root label must remain unchanged. 2 6.2 Orthogonality We can now show that / I , / S is an orthogonal basis for / . This result is important, since
it allows us to simply search for a programming mechanism that relates to / S in the same
fashion that inheritance relates to / I ; the less appealing choice was to find a mechanism
directly for the awkward set difference of / and / I . Furthermore, when we have such a / S -mechanism, then it is orthogonal to inheritance in a formal sense. The next chapter
discloses that / S yields a form of genericity . We have thus shown that inheritance and
genericity are independent, orthogonal components of generalized subclassing.
To prove the result we need a series of lemmas. Lemma 6.5: The relations / I ; / S are both partial orders, and / I " / S = 4 ( U ). Proof: Clearly, / S is a partial order. The extra condition on T 1 / I T 2 simply means that
for every ff 2 gen ( T 1 ) we have gen ( T 1 )[ ff ] = gen ( T 2 )[ ff ], except for the root labels which
24 are \024 -related. Hence, / I is a partial order. If also T 1 / S T 2 then all labels must be equal,
so the generators, and the trees, are equal. 2 Lemma 6.6: Whenever T 1 / T 2 then there is a unique A 2 U such that T 1 / S A / I T 2 . Proof: Suppose T 1 / T 2 . Then gen ( T 1 ) \026 gen ( T 2 ). Let L 1 be the root label of gen ( T 1 ).
Then the root label of gen ( T 2 ) must look like L 1 L 2 . Let gen ( A ) be obtained from gen ( T 2 ) by removing the L 2 -part of the root label and the subtrees that correspond to
its gaps. Since subtrees with the same address in / -related trees also will be / -related, it
follows that T 1 / A . Since T 1 ; T 2 2 U , then clearly A 2 U . But since they both have root
label L 1 , we also have T 1 / S A . It is trivially the case that A / I T 2 , so we have shown that T 1 / S A / I T 2 .
For the uniqueness of A , suppose we also have T 1 / S B / I T 2 . Then for every ff 2 gen ( T 2 )
we have gen ( T 2 )[ ff ] = gen ( A )[ ff ] = gen ( B )[ ff ], except for the root labels; but we also
have T 1 [ \025 ] = A [ \025 ] = B [ \025 ], so A = B . 2 Lemma 6.7: ( / I [ / S ) \003 = / Proof: Immediate from lemma 6.6. 2 Lemma 6.8: No partial order / M which is a proper subset of / S satisfies ( / I [ / M ) \003 = / .
Also, no partial order / N which is a proper subset of / I satisfies ( / N [ / S ) \003 = / . Proof: Suppose we have such a / M . Choose ( x; y ) 2 / S n / M . Then x [ \025 ] = y [ \025 ], so no / I n4 ( U ) steps can take place on a path from x to y . Hence, ( x; y ) 2 / \003 M = / M , which is
a contradiction. The other half of the result is proved similarly. 2 Lemma 6.9: Let P be a partial order, where all closed intervals are finite. Whenever P 1 ; P 2 \022 P and P \003 1 = P \003 2 = P , then ( P 1 " P 2 ) \003 = P . Proof: Clearly, ( P 1 " P 2 ) \003 \022 P . For the opposite inclusion, suppose ( x; y ) 2 P . The
proof is by induction in the size of the open interval over P from x to y . If the interval
is empty, then either ( x; y ) 2 ( P 1 " P 2 ) 0 , or ( x; y ) 2 ( P 1 " P 2 ). Now, suppose the interval
contains n + 1 elements. Choose z in it. Then both the open interval from x to z and that from z to y contain at most n elements. Hence, by the induction hypothesis,
( x; z ) ; ( z; y ) 2 ( P 1 " P 2 ) \003 . By transitivity of ( P 1 " P 2 ) \003 we conclude ( x; y ) 2 ( P 1 " P 2 ) \003 . 2 Lemma 6.10: If / M ? / / S then / I \022 / M . Also, if / I ? / / N then / S \022 / N . Proof: Suppose / M ? / / S . By corollary 5.11, all closed / -intervals of U are finite, so by
lemmas 6.7 and 6.9, / = (( / I [ / S ) " ( / M [ / S )) \003 = (( / I " / M ) [ / S ) \003 . By lemma 6.8, / I " / M cannot be a proper subset of / I . Hence, / I " / M = / I , so / I \022 / M . The other
half of the lemma is proved similarly. 2 Theorem 6.11: / I ; / S is an orthogonal basis for / .
25 Proof: Combine lemmas 6.5, 6.7, and 6.10. 2 The significance of this result is that a programming mechanism realizing / S , together
with inheritance which realizes / I , allow the programming of all subclasses. Furthermore,
two such programming mechanisms would be completely non-redundant; neither could
emulate the other. The situation is illustrated in figure 16, which shows how all subclasses
can be reached in axis-parallel moves. 6 subclasses of C ffl
fflffl
fflffl
ffl ffl
fflffl C
Object / S / I Figure 16: Orthogonal suborders. 7 Class Substitution The suborder / S requires that the root label cannot change. In terms of classes, this
means that only type information may change, and not the implementation itself. This is
precisely what intuitively characterizes genericity . This section introduces a programming
mechanism that corresponds to / S . It is called class substitution and implements a general
form of genericity. 7.1 Syntax The syntax for class substitution is as follows. If C , A i , and B i are classes, then C[A 1 ; : : : ; A n B 1 ; : : : ; B n ] is a class substitution which specifies a class D such that C / S D and all occurrences of A i are substituted by B i . If such a class does not exist, then the specification is statically
incorrect.
26 7.2 Semantics In this section we define precisely what class substitution means, and we show that it
exactly realizes / S . Input: A substitution specification: C[A 1 ; : : : ; A n B 1 ; : : : ; B n ] Output: Either fail or a resulting class: D Algorithm: M f ( A i # ff; B i # ff ) j 1 \024 i \024 n; ff 2 A i ; ff 2 B i g if M is not a / -increasing, partial function then fail apply M to the maximal subtrees of C in dom ( M ) yielding D if not D 2 U and C / S D then fail Figure 17: Expanding substitutions.
The algorithm to expand a substitution specification is summarized in figure 17. Intuitively, the relation M collects all the individual substitutions that must be performed.
The requirement that M is / -increasing is necessary in order for D to be a subclass of C . The requirement that M is a function is necessary to avoid inconsistent substitutions.
Note that the maximal subtrees of C that belong to the domain of M is a uniquely determined set of disjoint subtrees. Note also that failed substitutions can be determined on
compile-time. Proposition 7.1: If C / S D then D = C[A 1 ; : : : ; A n B 1 ; : : : ; B n ] for some A i ; B i . Proof: Clearly, D = C[C D] . 2 Hence, all / S -related subclasses can be expressed in this manner. Note though that the
specification given in the proof of proposition 7.1 is rather useless for practical programming: it corresponds to writing class D from scratch. There are often many different
specifications of the same class substitution, however, and in the following section we will
see how easy it is to select a convenient one.
It is also for pragmatic reasons that we allow multiple, simultaneous substitutions. With
this mechanism conflicting substitutions will cause compile-time errors; in contrast, a
sequence of individual substitutions will always succeed but may yield an unexpected result. For example, consider C[Object , Object Integer , Boolean] . Clearly, this specification
should lead to a compile-time error. But if we first carry out C[Object Integer] and
then C[Object Boolean] , then both succeed because the second will have no effect.
With this expansion algorithm at hand, we can now consider expanding programs with
more than one substitution specification. Using a well-formedness criterion similar to the
one presented in Section 4, the substitution specifications can be sorted and expanded
one by one. For a detailed explanation and examples of this, see [46].
27 7.3 Pragmatics The fact that class substitution realizes / S is not sufficient to ensure that class substitution
is a useful and pleasant programming mechanism. Only pragmatic arguments can really
justify such a claim. In this section we attempt to give such arguments by showing some
example programs which use class substitution, and by comparing class substitution with
parameterized classes.
In figure 18 is shown a subclass hierarchy as it can be programmed using inheritance and
class substitution. An arrow is labeled by "I" when the subclass is obtained by inheritance,
and "S" if by class substitution. The detailed code for the classes will be given subsequently. We assume that the classes Boolean , Integer , and Array has been programmed
already, and that Array instances respond to messages as specified in figure 19.
In the class Stack , the element type is Object , see figure 19. The classes Booleanstack and Integerstack are class substitutions of Stack . For example, Booleanstack is the class
obtained from Stack by substituting all occurrences of Object by Boolean , including those
in Array . Thus, Stack acts like a parameterized class but is just a class, not a second-order
entity. This enables gradual generic-instantiations, as demonstrated below.
The use of parameterized classes is the traditional approach to genericity [38, 39, 50, 34,
49, 42]. Similar constructs are found in conventional procedural languages, for example Ada generic packages [24], and parameterized Clu clusters [35]. A parameterized class is
a second-order entity which is generically-instantiated to specific classes when actual type
parameters are supplied. Generic-instantiation of parameterized classes is less flexible
than inheritance, since any class can be inherited but is not in itself parameterized. In
other words, code reuse with parameterized classes requires planning; code reuse with
inheritance does not.
In general, we will say that a genericity mechanism is a construct which allows the substitution of types in a class. Thus, class substitution is also a genericity mechanism,
and in contrast to parameterized classes it is the orthogonal complement of inheritance.
This indicates that class substitution gives more expressive power to an object-oriented
language than parameterized classes, and indeed Meyer [38] argued that parameterized
classes can be simulated by inheritance.
28 ? ? ? ? S
S
S
S
S
I
I
I
I Booleanmatrix
Matrixmatrix
Matrix
Ring[Object DoubleRingArray]
BooleanringRing[Object Boolean]Ring
BooleanstackStackObject Figure 18: Programming with class substitution. class Array method at(i: Integer) returns Object : : : method atput(i: Integer ; x: Object) returns selfClass : : : method initialize(size: Integer) returns selfClass : : : method arraysize returns Integer : : :
: : : end Array class Stack var space: Array var index: Integer method push(x: Object) returns selfClass
index := index succ ; space.atput(index,x) ; self method top returns Object
space.at(index) method pop returns selfClass
index := index pred ; self method initialize(size: Integer) returns selfClass
space := (Array new ).initialize(size) ; index := 0 ; self : : : end Stack class Booleanstack is Stack[Object Boolean] class Integerstack is Stack[Object Integer] Figure 19: Stack classes.
29 class Ring var value: Object method plus(other: selfClass) returns selfClass
self method zero returns selfClass
self method getvalue returns Object
value : : : end Ring class BooleanRing inherits Ring[Object Boolean] method plus(other: selfClass) returns selfClass
value := value.or(other.getvalue) ; self method zero returns selfClass
value := false ; self : : : end BooleanRing class DoubleArray is Array[Object Array] class DoubleRingArray is DoubleArray[Object Ring] class Matrix inherits Ring[Object DoubleRingArray] var i,j: Integer var r: Array[Object Ring] method plus(other: selfClass) returns selfClass for i := 1 to value.arraysize do r := value.at(i) ; for j:=1 to r.arraysize do r := r.atput(j, r.at(j).plus(other.at(i).at(j))) od ;
value.atput(i,r) od ;
self : : : end Matrix class Booleanmatrix is Matrix[Ring Booleanring] class Matrixmatrix is Matrix[Ring Matrix] Figure 20: Ring and matrix classes.
30 Note that class substitution is not textual substitution; in general, textual substitution
will not yield a statically correct subclass. For example, if we try to obtain Booleanstack by
textually substituting occurrences of Object by Boolean , then among others the expression space.atput(index,x) (in push ) becomes statically incorrect; it will have an Boolean instance
where an Object instance is required. For further examples, see [43].
Another drawback of parameterized classes is that they cannot be gradually genericallyinstantiated. This makes it awkward to, for example, declare a class Ring , then specialize
it to a class Matrix , and finally specialize Matrix to a class Booleanmatrix . In the following
we show how it can be done using inheritance and class substitution. The history of a
class developed with inheritance and substitution can be thought of as an element of the
language (I + S) \003 ; in comparison, parameterized classes restrict the possible histories to
S : I \003 .
Consider the ring classes in figure 20. The class Booleanring inherits a class substitution of
class Ring ; thus, Booleanring is a subclass of Ring . This illustrates how class substitution
and inheritance complement each other: first O bject is substituted by Boolean ; then the
inherited procedures are implemented appropriately.
This is further illustrated by the matrix classes, see figure 20. Again, the class Matrix is
obtained through a class substitution followed by an application of inheritance. We take
the liberty of using a for -statement, even though is has not been included in the syntax.
Class Matrixmatrix is obtained through class substitution alone.
It seems that class substitution could solve the problems in the Eiffel type system that
were reported by Cook [18], since attributes cannot be redeclared in isolation in subclasses,
there are no asymmetries as with declaration by association, and generic-instantiation can
be expressed as subclassing. 8 Separate Compilation and Infinite Types One common aspect of many existing object-oriented languages has so far not been captured by our framework.
We have restricted our types to be finite sets. We argued that this was quite adequate,
since in a given program any predicate could only be satisfied by finitely many classes.
With this type system we have developed a general notion of subclassing, under which any
subclass can be implemented as an extension of its superclass. This is the fundamental
idea of code reuse in object-oriented programming.
The concept of separate compilation , however, introduces a different level of code reuse,
which does not fit as smoothly into our framework. When a class is separately compiled,
then predicates cannot be expanded into finite sets, since only a part of the program is
known at the time of compilation.
The traditional solution is to introduce a limited form of infinite sets; in particular, cones of the form " T = f S 2 U j T / S g are employed. It is possible to generalize slightly: finite unions of cones and singletons
31 can be used. The important restriction is that the sets can be finitely represented, and
that membership and mutual inclusions are decidable. For cones, membership is just
subclassing, and inclusion coincides with reverse subclassing, i.e. " S \022 " T iff T / S A perfect match is not possible, but the types in a language such as Beta correspond
closely to either singletons or cones [36].
Recall the important property of our framework that can be stated as the slogan: subclassing preserves subtyping . In the presence of cones, the picture changes dramatically.
There exist classes T / S such that for some ff; fi we have " ( T # ff ) \022 " ( T # fi ) but " ( S # ff ) 6\022 " ( S # fi )
This unfortunately means that subclasses cannot be guaranteed to remain statically correct. A simple example is shown in figure 21, in which S is a statically incorrect subclass
of the statically correct class T . class T var x: " Object var y: " Integer method Assign returns selfClass
x := y ; self end T class S var x: " Boolean var y: " Integer method Assign returns selfClass
x := y ; self end S Figure 21: A statically incorrect subclass.
There seem to be three possible solutions. ffl restrict subclassing to preserve \022 : unfortunately, only trivial subclasses can be allowed. ffl restrict subtyping to be preserved by / : unfortunately, only trivial subtypes can be
allowed. ffl find a useful compromise between both subclassing and subtyping : unfortunately, no
such compromise seems to be forthcoming.
The situation does not look hopeful. The choice made by real-life languages is to keep
both \022 and / , which leads to an statically unsound type system. The reactions to such a
predicament fall on a spectrum ranging from C++ , in which these loop-holes are simply
32 ignored, to Beta , in which the necessary run-time type-checks are inserted into the code
of the superclass, yielding a dynamically sound type system.
We consider a more satisfactory solution to the problem of separate compilation to be an
extremely hard challenge. 9 Conclusion Our type system for object-oriented languages is conceptually simple and it ensures that
programs are readable, reliable, and more efficient. Our subclassing order can be implemented straightforwardly and it contains inheritance and class substitution as an orthogonal basis.
It is too preliminary to judge the pragmatics of class substitution, but several examples
indicate that it may be a useful alternative to parameterized classes. Future work includes
implementation and experimentation with the mechanism.
The expansion algorithm for transforming a program that uses inheritance into one which
does not may be of interest in itself. It can be useful for programmers who want to use
inheritance but are required to implement their programs in a language which does not
support it.
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37 Contents 1 Introduction 1
2 Types 2 2.1 Types are Sets of Classes : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 3
2.2 Subtyping is Set Inclusion : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 4
2.3 Inheritance is Not Subtyping : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 4
2.4 Other Type Systems : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 5 3 The Example Language 6 3.1 Informal Semantics : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 6
3.2 Static Correctness : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 7
3.3 Tree Representations of Classes : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 9
3.4 Examples : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 10 4 Inheritance 11 4.1 Syntax : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 11
4.2 Properties : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 12
4.3 The Expansion Algorithm : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 13 5 Generalized Subclassing 15 5.1 A Generalized Interpreter : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 15
5.2 A Partial Order on Trees : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 15
5.3 Properties : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 18
5.4 Examples : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 21 6 The Orthogonality Result 22 6.1 Two Suborders : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 23
6.2 Orthogonality : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 24 7 Class Substitution 26 7.1 Syntax : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 26
7.2 Semantics : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 27
7.3 Pragmatics : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 28 8 Separate Compilation and Infinite Types 31
9 Conclusion 33 38