2008-08-07

Why Type

Link: http://blogs.msdn.com/ericlippert/archive/2007/12/06/immutability-in-c-part-three-a-covariant-immutable-stack.aspx

For work, I'm demoing a GUI editor, which means undo would be nice, which is easiest to implement if you enforce purely functional data structures. So I'm doing a bit of reading as to how to implement suitable structures in Java 1.6, as that's the project's target language, and using Eric Lippert's examples as part of my reference material.

There was also yet another thread on forums.java.sun.com about what can be done with generics, erasure and making arrays safe.

I like having something which proves that all possible execution paths don't result in obviously erroneous actions. For many cases, a strong type system supports this.

But the more I look at it, being able to assert any simple thing about any action on an object would make a lot of the proofs simpler. There are better and better proof tools around, and the kinds of things you want to prove about concurrent systems are not easily expressed in a type.

I'm increasingly thinking that a dynamically typed runtime, with a good static model checker, would trump a strongly typed language in performance, productivity, and safety. But creating such a beast is highly non-trivial.

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