Bindings are Functors

Jasmin Christian Blanchette, Lorenzo Gheri, Andrei Popescu, Dmitriy Traytel

Abstract

We present a general framework for specifying and reasoning about syntax with bindings. Abstract binder types are modeled using a universe of functors on sets, subject to a number of operations that can be used to construct complex binding patterns and binding-aware datatypes, including non-well-founded and infinitely branching types, in a modular fashion. Despite not committing to any syntactic format, the framework is "concrete" enough to provide definitions of the fundamental operators on terms (free variables, alpha-equivalence, and capture-avoiding substitution) and reasoning and definition principles. This work is compatible with classical higher-order logic and has been formalized in the proof assistant Isabelle/HOL.

Paper draft