Semantic Subtyping with an SMT Solver

Gavin M. Bierman, Andrew D. Gordon, Catalin Hritcu, and David Langworthy


We study a first-order functional language with the novel combination of the ideas of refinement type (the subset of a type to satisfy a Boolean expression) and type-test (a Boolean expression testing whether a value belongs to a type). Our core calculus can express a rich variety of typing idioms; for example, intersection, union, negation, singleton, nullable, variant, and algebraic types are all derivable. We formulate a semantics in which expressions denote terms, and types are interpreted as first-order logic formulas. Subtyping is defined as valid implication between the semantics of types. The formulas are interpreted in a specific model that we axiomatize using standard first-order theories. On this basis, we present a novel type-checking algorithm able to eliminate many dynamic tests and to detect many errors statically. The key idea is to rely on an SMT solver to compute subtyping efficiently. Moreover, using an SMT solver allows us to show the uniqueness of normal forms for non-deterministic expressions, to provide precise counterexamples when type-checking fails, to detect empty types, and to compute instances of types statically and at run-time.


Publication typeTechReport
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc.
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