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Problem # 16

Submitted by Jakob Rehof
Date: 1996
Statement. Is the subtype entailment problem decidable?
Problem Origin. First stated in [Pottier, 1996] and [Trifonov and Smith, 1996]. The present formulation is from [Henglein and Rehof, 1998].


We ask if the entailment problem with simple subtyping constraints over non-structurally ordered trees is decidable. Non-structurally ordered trees have a least element, ⊥ , and a greatest element, ⊤ , which can be compared to any tree regardless of its tree domain (shape). Simple type expressions, τ  , are finite terms built from ⊥ , ⊤ and a binary constructor. Such expressions can be interpreted as denoting trees, and formal inequality constraints of the form τ ≤  τ′ can consequently be valuated in the non-structural order on trees. For a finite set of constraints             ′
C  = {τi ≤ τi}i=1...n  of constraints and terms τ  and  ′
τ , we consider the entailment            ′
C  ∣= τ ≤  τ , or, equivalently, validity of the first-order Horn implication     ∧n
∀⃗α.(  i=1τi ≤ τ′i) → τ ≤ τ ′ , where α⃗  are the variables occurring in C  , τ  and τ ′ .

The problem first appears in slightly different forms in the papers [Pottier, 1996] and [Trifonov and Smith, 1996] for the purpose of simplifying subtyping constraints. It was studied in the form presented here in [Henglein and Rehof, 1998] (following the formulation in [Henglein and Rehof, 1997] for simple types), where it was shown to be to be PSPACE-hard. The full first-order theory of subtyping constraints has been shown to be undecidable [Su et al., 2002], but the question of decidability of entailment remains open [Rehof, 1998]. Further references can be found in [Rehof, 1998] and [Niehren and Priesnitz, 2003].

References for # 16

[Henglein and Rehof, 1997]    Henglein, F. and Rehof, J. (1997). The complexity of subtype entailment for simple types. In Logic in Computer Science, pages 352–361. IEEE Computer Society Press.

[Henglein and Rehof, 1998]    Henglein, F. and Rehof, J. (1998). Constraint automata and the complexity of recursive subtype entailment. In International Colloquium on Automata, Languages, and Programming, volume 1443 of Lecture Notes in Computer Science, pages 616–627. Springer-Verlag.

[Niehren and Priesnitz, 2003]    Niehren, J. and Priesnitz, T. (2003). Non-structural subtype entailment in automata theory. Information and Computation, 186(2):319–354.

[Pottier, 1996]    Pottier, F. (1996). Simplifying subtyping constraints. In International Conference on Functional Programming, pages 122–133. ACM Press.

[Rehof, 1998]    Rehof, J. (1998). The Complexity of Simple Subtyping Systems. PhD thesis, Department of Computer Science, University of Copenhagen.

[Su et al., 2002]    Su, Z., Aiken, A., Niehren, J., Priesnitz, T., and Treinen, R. (2002). The first-order theory of subtyping constraints. In Symposium on Principles of Programming Languages, pages 203–216. ACM Press.

[Trifonov and Smith, 1996]    Trifonov, V. and Smith, S. (1996). Subtyping constrained types. In Static Analysis Symposium, volume 1145 of Lecture Notes in Computer Science, pages 349–365. Springer-Verlag.

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