Ott: This talk discusses the experience of using Ott for programming language design. Or Nott? We reflect on the limitations of Ott, and on what other (New Ott?) tool support a working semanticist might want in an ideal world.
Semantic definitions of full-scale programming languages are rarely given, despite the many potential benefits. Partly this is because the available metalanguages for expressing semantics – usually either LaTeX for informal mathematics or the formal mathematics of a proof assistant – make it much harder than necessary to work with large definitions. We present a metalanguage specifically designed for this problem, and a tool, Ott, that sanity-checks such definitions and compiles them into proof assistant code for Coq, HOL, and Isabelle/HOL, together with LaTeX code for production-quality typesetting, and OCaml boilerplate. The main innovations are (1) metalanguage design to make definitions concise, and easy to read and edit; (2) an expressive but intuitive metalanguage for specifying binding structures; and (3) compilation to proof assistant code. This has been tested in substantial case studies, including modular specifications of calculi from the TAPL text, a Lightweight Java with Java JSR 277/294 module system proposals, and a large fragment of OCaml (OCamllight, 310 rules), with mechanised proofs of various soundness results. Our aim with this work is to enable a phase change: making it feasible to work routinely, without heroic effort, with rigorous semantic definitions of realistic languages.
It is rare to give a semantic definition of a full-scale programming language, despite the many potential benefits. Partly this is because the available metalanguages for expressing semantics - usually either LaTeX for informal mathematics, or the formal mathematics of a proof assistant - make it much harder than necessary to work with large definitions.We present a metalanguage specifically designed for this problem, and a tool, ott, that sanity-checks such definitions and compiles them into proof assistant code for Coq, HOL, Isabelle, and (in progress) Twelf, together with LaTeX code for production-quality typesetting, and OCaml boilerplate. The main innovations are:(1) metalanguage design to make definitions concise, and easy to read and edit;(2) an expressive but intuitive metalanguage for specifying binding structures; and (3) compilation to proof assistant code.
This has been tested in substantial case studies, including modular specifications of calculi from the TAPL text, a Lightweight Java with Java JSR 277/294 module system proposals, and a large fragment of OCaml (around 306 rules), with machine proofs of various soundness results. Our aim with this work is to enable a phase change: making it feasible to work routinely, without heroic effort, with rigorous semantic definitions of realistic languages.