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Problem #50

Originator: Jean-Pierre Jouannaud
Date: December 1991

Summary: Investigate confluence and termination of combinations of typed lambda-calculi with term rewriting systems.

Combinations of typed λ-calculi with term-rewriting systems have been studied extensively in the past few years [Bar90][BTG89][DO90][Dou91]. The strongest termination result allows first-order rules as well as higher-order rules defined by a generalization of primitive recursion. Suppose all rules for functional constant F follow the schema:

F(l[X],Ȳ)→ v[F(r1[X],Ȳ) ,...,F(rm[X],Ȳ),Ȳ)]

where the (not necessarily disjoint) variables in X and Ȳ are of arbitrary order, each of l,r1,...,rm is in T( F,{X}), v[z,Ȳ] is in T( F,{Ȳ,z}), for new variables z of appropriate types, and r1,…,rm are each less than l in the multiset extension of the strict subterm ordering. If T(F,X) is the term-algebra which includes only previously defined functional constants—forbidding the use of mutually recursive functional constants—termination is ensured [JO91]. Does termination also hold when there are mutually recursive definitions? Does this also hold when the subterm assumption is unfulfilled? (In [JO91] an alternative schema is proposed, with the subterm assumption weakened at the price of having only first-order variables in X.) Questions of confluence of combinations of typed λ-calculi and higher-order systems also merit investigation. These results have been extended to combinations with more expressive type systems [BF93b][BF93a].


An extension to the Calculus of Constructions has been reported in [BFG94]. One can also allow the use of lexicographic and other “statuses” for the higher-order constants when comparing the subterms of F in left and right hand sides [Jouannaud and Okada, unpublished]. Finally, this can also be done when the rewrite rules follow from the induction schema in the initial algebra of the constructors [Wer94].

Important improvements of the previous works have been achieved in [Bla03] and [WC03].


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Daniel Dougherty. Adding algebraic rewriting to the untyped lambda calculus (extended abstract). In Ronald. V. Book, editor, 4th International Conference on Rewriting Techniques and Applications, volume 488 of Lecture Notes in Computer Science, pages 37–48, Como, Italy, April 1991. Springer-Verlag.
Jean-Pierre Jouannaud and Mitsuhiro Okada. Executable higher-order algebraic specification languages. In Gilles Kahn, editor, Sixth Symposium on Logic in Computer Science, pages 350–361, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, July 1991. IEEE.
Daria Walukiewicz-Chrzaszcz. Termination of rewriting in the Calculus of Constructions. Journal of Functional Programming, 13(2):339–414, 2003.
Benjamin Werner. Méta-théorie du Calcul des Constructions Inductives. Thèse Univ. Paris VII, France, 1994.

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