A category of type-changing substitutions

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The setup

Consider a type of terms parameterized over a type of function symbols node and a type of variables var:

data Term node var   = VarTerm !var   | FunTerm !node !(Vector (Term node var))   deriving (Eq, Ord, Show)  instance Functor (Term node) where   fmap f (VarTerm var)  = VarTerm (f var)   fmap f (FunTerm n cs) = FunTerm n (Vector.map (fmap f) cs)  instance Monad (Term node) where   pure = VarTerm   join (VarTerm term) = term   join (FunTerm n cs) = FunTerm n (Vector.map join cs) 

This is a useful type, since we encode open terms with Term node Var, closed terms with Term node Void, and contexts with Term node ().

The goal is to define a type of substitutions on Terms in the most pleasant possible way. Here's a first stab:

newtype Substitution (node ∷ Type) (var ∷ Type)   = Substitution { fromSubstitution ∷ Map var (Term node var) }   deriving (Eq, Ord, Show) 

Now let's define some auxiliary values related to Substitution:

subst ∷ Substitution node var → Term node var → Term node var subst s (VarTerm var)  = fromMaybe (MkVarTerm var)                          (Map.lookup var (fromSubstitution s)) subst s (FunTerm n ts) = FunTerm n (Vector.map (subst s) ts)  identity ∷ Substitution node var identity = Substitution Map.empty  -- Laws: -- -- 1. Unitality: --    ∀ s ∷ Substitution n v → s ≡ (s ∘ identity) ≡ (identity ∘ s) -- 2. Associativity: --    ∀ a, b, c ∷ Substitution n v → ((a ∘ b) ∘ c) ≡ (a ∘ (b ∘ c)) -- 3. Monoid action: --    ∀ x, y ∷ Substitution n v → subst (y ∘ x) ≡ (subst y . subst x) (∘) ∷ (Ord var)     ⇒ Substitution node var     → Substitution node var     → Substitution node var s1 ∘ s2 = Substitution           (Map.unionWith            (λ _ _ → error "this should never happen")            (Map.map (subst s1) (fromSubstitution s2))            ((fromSubstitution s1) `Map.difference` (fromSubstitution s2))) 

Clearly, (Substitution n v, ∘, identity) is a monoid (ignoring the Ord constraint on ) and (Term n v, subst) is a monoid action of Substitution n v.

Now suppose that we want to make this scheme encode substitutions that change the variable type. This would look like some type SubstCat that satisfies the module signature below:

data SubstCat (node ∷ Type) (domainVar ∷ Type) (codomainVar ∷ Type)   = … ∷ Type  subst ∷ SubstCat node dom cod → Term node dom → Term node cod  identity ∷ SubstCat node var var  (∘) ∷ (Ord v1, Ord v2, Ord v3)     → SubstCat node v2 v3     → SubstCat node v1 v2     → SubstCat node v1 v3 

This is almost a Haskell Category, but for the Ord constraints on . You might think that if (Substitution n v, ∘, identity) was a monoid before, and subst was a monoid action before, then subst should now be a category action, but in point of fact category actions are just functors (in this case, a functor from a subcategory of Hask to another subcategory of Hask).

Now there are some properties we'd hope would be true about SubstCat:

  1. SubstCat node var Void should be the type of ground substitutions.
  2. SubstCat Void var var should be the type of flat substitutions.
  3. instance (Eq node, Eq dom, Eq cod) ⇒ Eq (SubstCat node dom cod) should exist (as well as similar instances for Ord and Show).
  4. It should be possible to compute the domain variable set, the image term set, and the introduced variable set, given a SubstCat node dom cod.
  5. The operations I have described should be about as fast/space-efficient as their equivalents in the Substitution implementation above.

The simplest possible approach to writing SubstCat would be to simply generalize Substitution:

newtype SubstCat (node ∷ Type) (dom ∷ Type) (cod ∷ Type)   = SubstCat { fromSubstCat ∷ Map dom (Term node cod) }   deriving (Eq, Ord, Show) 

Unfortunately, this does not work because when we run subst it may be the case that the term we are running substitution on contains variables that are not in the domain of the Map. We could get away with this in Substitution since dom ~ cod, but in SubstCat we have no way to deal with these variables.

My next attempt was to deal with this issue by also including a function of type dom → cod:

data SubstCat (node ∷ Type) (dom ∷ Type) (cod ∷ Type)   = SubstCat     !(Map dom (Term node cod))     !(dom → cod) 

This causes a few problems, however. Firstly, since SubstCat now contains a function, it can no longer have Eq, Ord, or Show instances. We cannot simply ignore the dom → cod field when comparing for equality, since the semantics of substitution change depending on its value. Secondly, it is now no longer the case that SubstCat node var Void represents a type of ground substitutions; in fact, SubstCat node var Void is uninhabited!

Érdi Gergő suggested on Facebook that I use the following definition:

newtype SubstCat (node ∷ Type) (dom ∷ Type) (cod ∷ Type)   = SubstCat (dom → Term node cod) 

This is certainly a fascinating prospect. There is an obvious category for this type: the Kleisli category given by the Monad instance on Term node. I am not sure if this actually corresponds to the usual notion of substitution composition, however. Unfortunately, this representation cannot have instances for Eq et al. and I suspect it could be very inefficient in practice, since in the best case it will end up being a tower of closures of height Θ(n), where n is the number of insertions. It also doesn't allow computation of the domain variable set.

The question

Is there a sensible type for SubstCat that fits my requirements? Can you prove that one does not exist? If I give up having correct instances of Eq, Ord, and Show, is it possible?


There is an obvious category for this type: the Kleisli category given by the Monad instance on Term node. I am not sure if this actually corresponds to the usual notion of substitution composition, however.

It does correspond to that, and it's an all-around correct definition of parallel substitution for well-scoped terms. You may note that this substitution is total; this is a requirement if you want term substitution to be total, i. e. that it's a functor from the category of substitutions (Subst) to Set. For a simple example for why partial substitutions don't work, if you have an empty SubstCat node () Void, then you would have to invent arbitrary closed terms when hitting VarTerm () in subst - and closed terms don't even exist if you choose Void for node.

Hence, if you have Map dom (Term node cod) then you have partial term substitution, i. e. a functor from Subst to the Kleisli category for Maybe (disregarding for now formal complications from the Ord constraints):

type Subst node i j = Map i (Term node j)  subst :: Ord i => Subst node i j -> Term node i -> Maybe (Term node j) subst sub (VarTerm x)    = Map.lookup x sub subst sub (FunTerm f ts) = FunTerm f <$> traverse (subst sub) ts 

Now, total term substitution along with your 1-5 desiderata for SubstCat is possible, but not with the current kinds for SubstCat and Term. As I mentioned, in this case substitutions must be total, but currently we can just have SubstCat node dom cod with some infinite dom, which makes equality of substitutions undecidable.

So let's switch a more precise formalization, which contains only what we actually care about here. We have well-scoped untyped terms, and we assume that terms are finite and live in finite variable contexts.

Untyped terms imply that only sizes of variable contexts matter. So, Subst has natural numbers as objects:

data Nat = Z | S Nat deriving (Eq, Show) 

Terms are indexed by n :: Nat, containing n possible values for variables:

-- {-# language TypeInType, GADTs, TypeFamilies, ScopedTypeVariables, --           FlexibleInstances, MultiParamTypeClasses, RankNTypes, --           TypeApplications, StandaloneDeriving #-}  data Fin n where   FZ :: Fin (S n)   FS :: Fin n -> Fin (S n) deriving instance Eq (Fin n) deriving instance Ord (Fin n) deriving instance Show (Fin n)  data Term node (n :: Nat) where   VarTerm :: !(Fin n) -> Term node n   FunTerm :: !node -> !(Vector (Term node n)) -> Term node n  deriving instance Eq node => Eq (Term node n) deriving instance Ord node => Ord (Term node n) deriving instance Show node => Show (Term node n) 

Substitutions (morphisms) are vectors of terms:

data Vec a n where   Nil  :: Vec a Z   (:>) :: a -> Vec a n -> Vec a (S n) infixr 5 :>  deriving instance Eq a => Eq (Vec a n) deriving instance Ord a => Ord (Vec a n) deriving instance Show a => Show (Vec a n)  type Subst node i j = Vec (Term node j) i 

Term substitution is as follows:

subst :: Subst node i j -> Term node i -> Term node j subst (t :> _ ) (VarTerm FZ)     = t subst (_ :> ts) (VarTerm (FS x)) = subst ts (VarTerm x) subst sub       (FunTerm f ts)   = FunTerm f (Vector.map (subst sub) ts) 

Composition is just pointwise subst:

comp :: Subst node i j -> Subst node j k -> Subst node i k comp Nil       sub2 = Nil comp (t :> ts) sub2 = subst sub2 t :> comp ts sub2 

Identity substitution is not so easy. We need to dispatch on a type-level Nat. For this, we use here a type class; singletons would be a heavier but more principled solution. The implementation itself is also a bit mind-bending. It makes use of the fact that Subst node n m is isomorphic to (Fin n -> Term node m). In fact, we could just use the functional representation all the time, but then the Eq, Ord and Show instance would still effectively need the backwards conversion, and we would not have the spacetime boundedness guarantees of (strict) vectors.

class Tabulate n where   tabulate :: (Fin n -> Term node m) -> Subst node n m  instance Tabulate Z where   tabulate f = Nil  instance Tabulate n => Tabulate (S n) where   tabulate f = f FZ :> tabulate (f . FS)  idSubst :: Tabulate n => Subst node n n idSubst = tabulate VarTerm 

That's it! Proofs that subst preserves idSubst and comp are left to the reader.

PS: I note that in literature and formal Agda/Coq developments, Nat indices of Subst are usually in swapped order, and subst has contravariant action.


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