Notes on types, largely, but not exclusively, from the perspective of type theory.

TODO Notes to process

Structuralist view

Girard advances an existentialist view of logic (and type theory, as a sub-discipline):

Existence. One can instead contend that [the existence of] objects are anterior to their type, seen as an essence. This is the viewpoint of subtyping, this is also the viewpoint of ludics: an object may have several types, be representative of several essences. Their locativity becomes essential.


I suspect that, when cleansed of it’s humanist and historicist distortions, existentialism resolves into a radical structuralism.

I further suspect…

A type system is a functor from types to terms. Parametric types give natural transformations over functors to simply typed terms. There are also other important ways of tracing natural transformations between sets of typeable terms. Subtyping lets us establish and specify some of these and, in fact, Girard presents polymorphism as a subspecies of subtyping:

Polymorphism is the observation that the same λ-term can admit several types.

(girard11, 135)

The jiggering and exploring of various type systems is all in pursuit of an ideal sweet spot that will let us prove everything we think we should be able to while eliminating forms of expression that become unwieldy and undermine our capacity to reason about the system at all. Type systems also provide an important interface abstracting over lambda terms. When we reason about terms of type int -> int we can draw inferences about an infinite class of potential functions while maintaining a birds eye view.

Does it make sense to look for types that range over patterns and structures that hold between subtypes?

From the subtyping view, the addition of linear types expanded the class of terms our types can provide an interface to, allowing new distinctions (maybe also allowing terms untypeable in other systems into the domain?).

There are types correlating interfaces between systems of types. This is what Goguen advocates in Programming91typesas.

A confusion regarding the Curry-Howard analogy

iiuc, \(x : A \simeq x \in A \simeq x \: is \: an \: A\). This level of typing judgment is required for a simply typed λ-calculus. But simply typed λ-calculus is only analogous to propsitional logic, so how can we be predicating here? This is what leads me to suspect type theory would be more easily understood as an extension of term logic.

Type Theory as a Normative Discipline

This view takes type theory to be merely an extension of the normative theory of logic.

Type Theory is a computational model constrained by a logical syntax.

Logical syntax can thus be seen both as a constructive tool, enabling the formation of (normalizing) typed terms, and as a constraining one, imposing a custom on pure terms (and their socialization) in order to force termination.


TODO Extract Thread from Twitter


  • [girard11] Jean-Yves Girard, The blind spot : lectures on logic, European Mathematical Society (2011).
  • [Programming91typesas] Joseph Goguen Programming & Joseph Goguen, Types as Theories, 357-390, in in: Topology and Category Theory in Computer Science, edited by (1991)
  • [abrusci14_transc] Abrusci & Pistone, On Transcendental Syntax: A Kantial Program For Logic?, Unpublishd, (2014).