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Technical Report HW-MACS-TR-0079


TitleA constraint system for a SML type error slicer
AuthorsVincent Rahli, J. B. Wells, Fairouz Kamareddine
Date2010-08-19
Abstract Existing compilers for many languages have confusing type error messages. Type error slicing (TES) helps the programmer by isolating the part of a program contributing to a type error, but unfortunately TES was initially done for a tiny toy language. Extending TES to a full programming language is extremely challenging, and for SML we needed a number of innovations and generalisations. Some issues would be faced for any language, and some are SML-specific but representative of the complexity of language-specific issues likely to be faced for other languages. We solve both kinds of issues and present a simple, general constraint system for providing type error slices for ill-typed programs. Our constraint system elegantly and efficiently handles features like the intricate ``open'' SML feature. We show how the simple clarity of type error slices can demystify language features known to confuse users.
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