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Deriving Effect Handler Semantics

Master Project
of Chris Lemaire

For algebraic effects and handlers, we know both small-step and big-step operational semantics and we are familiar with denotational semantics. But, what is missing is a structured showing that one is equivalent to the other. On top of this, most efficient implementations of algebraic effects and handlers closely resemble their denotational semantics by encoding operations in what is called the free monad. In this work, we often refer to these implementations as freer monad-based embeddings of effects and handlers. These embeddings enable programmers to write effectful programs as though they are monadic programs. However, the derivation of such an embedding from an operational semantics remains thusfar unexplored. This work fills in the gap between a denotational interpreter derived by inverse closure conversion and the freer monad-based embedding of effects and handlers. We thus define and show program transformations that extend the steps needed to transform a denotational interpreter to a small-step interpreter and vice versa.

Student: Chris Lemaire

Supervisor(s): Jaro Reinders, Casper Bach Poulsen

Defended: March 29, 2023