Efficient Type Inference for Record Concatenation and Subtyping

Jens Palsberg and Tian Zhao

To appear at Symposium on Logic in Computer Science (LICS'2002), Copenhagen, Denmark, July 22nd - 25th, 2002


Record concatenation, multiple inheritance, and multiple-object cloning are closely related and part of various language designs. For example, in Cardelli's untyped Obliq language, a new object can be constructed from several existing objects by cloning followed by concatenation; an error is given in case of field name conflicts. Type systems for record concatenation have been studied by Wand, Harper and Pierce, Remy, and others; and type inference for the combination of record concatenation and subtyping has been studied by Sulzmann and by Pottier. In this paper we present the first polynomial-time type inference algorithm for record concatenation, subtyping, and recursive types. Our example language is the Abadi-Cardelli object calculus extended with a concatenation operator. The type inference algorithm runs in O(n^5) time where n is the size of the program. Our algorithm enables efficient type checking of Obliq programs without changing the programs at all.

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