A theory of indirection via approximation

Aquinas Hobor, Robert Dockinsy, Andrew W. Appel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Building semantic models that account for various kinds of indirect reference has traditionally been a difficult problem. Indirect reference can appear in many guises, such as heap pointers, higher-order functions, object references, and shared-memory mutexes. We give a general method to construct models containing indirect reference by presenting a "theory of indirection". Our method can be applied in a wide variety of settings and uses only simple, elementary mathematics. In addition to various forms of indirect reference, the resulting models support powerful features such as impredicative quantification and equirecursion; moreover they are compatible with the kind of powerful substructural accounting required to model (higher-order) separation logic. In contrast to previous work, our model is easy to apply to new settings and has a simple axiomatization, which is complete in the sense that all models of it are isomorphic. Our proofs are machine-checked in Coq.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171-184
Number of pages14
JournalACM SIGPLAN Notices
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Computer Science


  • Indirection theory
  • Step-indexed models


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