[SIGCIS-Members] The "type" concept in programming languages

Alberts, Gerard G.Alberts at uva.nl
Sat Oct 17 17:10:11 PDT 2015

Dear Kevin,
Yes, while the rest of the world was convening in Albuquerque, some gathered in Pisa for HaPoC. Martini's was one of the papers presented there.

Although we were jealous for not being at SHOT and missing the SIGCIS meeting (and blamed ourselves for  scheduling coinciding meetings), there was an engaging conference with excellent papers.
The full programme is at

Van: Members [members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org] namens Kevin Driscoll [kdriscoll at alum.mit.edu]
Verzonden: zaterdag 17 oktober 2015 21:37
Aan: members at sigcis.org
Onderwerp: [SIGCIS-Members] The "type" concept in programming languages

This is a neat paper that traces the emergence of "type" as a technical term in programming languages by turning back to the documentation of FORTRAN, Algol 58, etc.



Martini, Simone. “Several Types of Types in Programming Languages.” arXiv:1510.03726 [cs], October 13, 2015. http://arxiv.org/abs/1510.03726.

Types are an important part of any modern programming language, but we often forget that the concept of type we understand nowadays is not the same it was perceived in the sixties. Moreover, we conflate the concept of "type" in programming languages with the concept of the same name in mathematical logic, an identification that is only the result of the convergence of two different paths, which started apart with different aims. The paper will present several remarks (some historical, some of more conceptual character) on the subject, as a basis for a further investigation. The thesis we will argue is that there are three different characters at play in programming languages, all of them now called types: the technical concept used in language design to guide implementation; the general abstraction mechanism used as a modelling tool; the classifying tool inherited from mathematical logic. We will suggest three possible dates ad quem for their presence in the programming language literature, suggesting that the emergence of the concept of type in computer science is relatively independent from the logical tradition, until the Curry-Howard isomorphism will make an explicit bridge between them.

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