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Practical Foundations for Programming Languages

Types are the central organizing principle of the theory of programming languages. In this innovative book, Professor Robert Harper offers a fresh perspective on the fundamentals of these languages through the use of type theory. Whereas most textbooks on the subject emphasize taxonomy, Harper instead emphasizes genetics, examining the building blocks from which all programming languages are constructed. Language features are manifestations of type structure. The syntax of a language is governed by the constructs that define its types, and its semantics is determined by the interactions among those constructs. The soundness of a language design - the absence of ill-defined programs - follows naturally. Professor Harper's presentation is simultaneously rigorous and intuitive, relying on elementary mathematics. The framework he outlines scales easily to a rich variety of language concepts and is directly applicable to their implementation. The result is a lucid introduction to programming theory that is both accessible and practical.