Datatype Laws Without Signatures

M.M. Fokkinga

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Using the well-known categorical notion of `functor' one may define the concept of datatype (algebra) without being forced to introduce a signature, that is, names and typings for the individual sorts (types) and operations involved. This has proved to be advantageous for those theory developments where one is not interested in the syntactic appearance of an algebra. The categorical notion of `transformer' developed in this paper allows the same approach to laws: without using signatures one can define the concept of law for datatypes (lawful algebras), and investigate the equational specification of datatypes in a syntax-free way. A transformer is a special kind of functor and also a natural transformation on the level of dialgebras. Transformers are quite expressive, satisfy several closure properties, and are related to naturality and Wadler's Theorems For Free. In fact, any colimit is an initial lawful algebra.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)1-32
Number of pages32
JournalMathematical structures in computer science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1996


  • IR-66234
  • METIS-118493
  • EWI-6290

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