Types and Programming Languages Hardcover – Jan 4 2002
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Types are the leaven of computer programming; they make it digestible. This excellent book uses types to navigate the rich variety of programming languages, bringing a new kind of unity to their usage, theory, and implementation. Its author writes with the authority of experience in all three of these aspects.(Robin Milner, Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge)
Written by an outstanding researcher, this book is well organized and very clear, spanning both theory and implementation techniques, and reflecting considerable experience in teaching and expertise in the subject.(John Reynolds, School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University)
Types and Programming Languages is carefully written with a well-balanced choice of topics. It focusses on pragmatics, with the right level of necessary theory. The exercises in this book range from easy to challenging and provide stimulating material for beginning and advanced readers, both programmers and the more theoretically minded.(Henk Barendregt, Faculty of Science, Mathematics, and Computer Science, University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands)
Over the last two decades type theory has emerged as the central, unifying framework for research in programming languages. But these remarkable advances are not as well-known as they should be. The rapid advance of research on type systems for programming languages has far outpaced its dissemination to the rest of the field. No more. Pierce's book not only provides a comprehensive account of types for programming languages, but it does so in an engagingly elegant and concrete style that places equal emphasis on theoretical foundations and the practical problems of programming. This book will be the definitive reference for many years to come.(Robert Harper, Professor, Computer Science Department, Carnegie Mellon University)
About the Author
Benjamin C. Pierce is Professor of Computer and Information Science at the University of Pennsylvania.
Top Customer Reviews
On the one hand, it offers excellent grounding: practical motivation is provided, numerous examples illustrate the concepts, and implementations are provided which can be used to typecheck and evaluate these examples. At various points, extended demonstrations of the type systems under consideration are given (e.g. showing how objects may be encoded). The exercises are well constructed and in many cases, accompanied with answers and detailed explanations in the appendix.
On the other hand, it offers an excellent exposition of the material: Pierce provides a lucid account of the static and dynamic semantics (primarily small-step operational) for various lambda calculi. He proceeds in a stepwise fashion via the gradual accretion of features: from first order (simply typed) systems to higher order systems incorporating bounded subtyping and recursion. He also gives attention to the metatheory of these systems (focusing on proofs of progress and preservation, and for systems with subtyping, of decideability). Internally, the text is well organized, with clear dependencies among the chapters, and the bibliography is extensive.
It should be noted that, while reasonably comprehensive, the text is necessarily limited in scope. For example, aside from the discussion on Featherweight Java, systems other than typed lambda calculus variants are not considered. In my opinion, the focus on these (in some sense "low-level") calculi makes foundational issues more apparent, and the linear progression from simple to complex variants lends a pleasant cohesiveness that would have been lost in a more general survey. However, as object/class encodings were discussed at various points, it would have been nice to see a more integrated presentation, in the spirit of the paper Comparing Object Encodings [BCP97].
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The book is absolutely great. But I regretted buying this particular version of it.
This book is almost what I was looking for. It builds up a semantic logic based on lambda calculus, then creates typed versions. Pierce really does work very methodically up through the levels, ending at about the place where C++ templates and recursive type definitions start. Along the way, he's careful to match the typing axioms to semantics, covering unusual topics like exceptions and type inference while he's at it.
Almost what I was looking for, but not quite. As I said, I have immediate needs, and I'm not into theory for its own sweet sake. That means I had little appreciation for all the chapters that created arithmetic all over again, starting from Peano axioms (or something like), via the lambda calculus. I know that low-level axiomatizations and lambda calculus are much beloved of the theoreticians, but I encounter them only rarely, and when I was trying to get something else done, like now. For me, they created a diversion blocked by an impediment. Also, however convenient it may be for theory, functional programming is mostly a journal-page peculiarity in industrial practice. I admit, analysis of functional programs pushed me into insight I might have missed, but I would probably have been quite happy dealing with assignment formalisms instead.
I almost gave this three stars, because its unnecessary notational baggage and off-main-stream topics weren't doing my job. Bruce's book (ISBN 026202523X) was a much more profitable use of my time. Still, Pierce's goals weren't mine, and the mansion of type analysis has many rooms. Not all of those rooms are furnished to my taste, and don't need to be. I rounded up to four stars for what it meant to do.
For me, this book strikes exactly the right balance between theory and practicality. Chapters on the mathematical properties of various tiny programming languages are interleaved with chapters that provide annotated implementations of those languages.
The book will also give you the background (notation and terminology) you'll need to read cutting-edge research papers on programming language theory.
This book contains all the information I was missing. Excellent presentation of the material, well written, great exercises, doesn't go off into lala-land. Highly recommended. Some math background very helpful (you need to know what a mathematical proof is).
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