Department of Computer Science and Technology

Course pages 2017–18

Advanced Functional Programming

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The mailing list is used for announcements, questions and discussion. Feel free to post!

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We'll be using (mostly) OCaml and (some) Agda in the course. The following books provide sufficient background:

  • OCaml from the Very Beginning
    John Whitington
    Available in print, or as a PDF ($14.99)
  • Real World OCaml
    Yaron Minsky, Anil Madhavapeddy, Jason Hickey
    Available in print, or online. Chapters 1 to 6 give enough background for this course.

The OCaml Beginners mailing list is also a useful resource.

The first few lectures are quite theory oriented: we'll be looking at various typed lambda calculi, along with type inference in ML-family languages. If you haven't studied the lambda calculus before then some background reading is likely to make these lectures much easier to follow. There are many introductions available; one which fits well with our approach is

  • Types and Programming Languages
    Benjamin C. Pierce
    There are copies in the Computer Laboratory library and many of the college libraries.

The material in chapters 5 (The Untyped Lambda-Calculus) and 9 (Simply Typed Lambda-Calculus) is essential. We'll also be covering material from later chapters (11, 23, 24, 29, 30), although in much less detail than Pierce.

Additionally, the Part II (third year undergraduate) Types course is a less-advanced course covering ML, System F and the Curry-Howard correspondence.


The OPAM package manager is the recommended way to install OCaml.

We will be using System Fω in the course to illustrate theoretical aspects of functional programming. We have provided an Fω interpreter (based on the interpreters by Pierce for the "Types and Programming Languages" book) so you can try out the examples.

The interpreter can be installed using OPAM with the following instructions:

    $ opam remote add advanced-fp git://
    $ opam install fomega

The interpreter can also be used directly in the browser.

Tentative lecture schedule

Thursday 18 January 2018 (12pm, SW01)
Lambda calculus (I)
Jeremy Yallop
Monday 22 January 2018 (12pm, SW01)
Type inference
Nada Amin
Thursday 25 January 2018 (12pm, SW01)
The Curry-Howard Correspondence
Nada Amin
Monday 29 January 2018 (12pm, SW01)
Abstraction and parametricity (I)
Nada Amin
Thursday 1 February 2018 (12pm, SW01)
Abstraction and parametricity (II)
Nada Amin
Monday 5 February 2018 (12pm, SW01)
Jeremy Yallop
Thursday 8 February 2018 (12pm, SW01)
Lambda calculus (II)
Jeremy Yallop
Monday 12 February 2018 (12pm, SW01)
Indexed data (I): generalized algebraic data types
Jeremy Yallop
Thursday 15 February 2018 (12pm, SW01)
Indexed data (II): inductive families
Jeremy Yallop
Monday 19 February 2018 (12pm, SW01)
Jeremy Yallop
Thursday 22 February 2018 (12pm, SW01)
Effects (I): monads etc.
Jeremy Yallop
Monday 26 February 2018 (12pm, SW01)
Effects (II): algebraic effects & handlers
Jeremy Yallop
Thursday 1 March 2018 (12pm, SW01)
Generic programming
Jeremy Yallop
Monday 5 March 2018 (12pm, SW01)
Multi-stage programming (I)
Jeremy Yallop
Thursday 8 March 2018 (12pm, SW01)
Multi-stage programming (II)
Jeremy Yallop
Monday 12 March 2018 (12pm, SW01)
Jeremy Yallop