Stepping Lazy Programs [article]

Stephen Chang and John Clements and Eli Barzilay and Matthias Felleisen
2011 arXiv   pre-print
Debugging lazy functional programs poses serious challenges. In support of the "stop, examine, and resume" debugging style of imperative languages, some debugging tools abandon lazy evaluation. Other debuggers preserve laziness but present it in a way that may confuse programmers because the focus of evaluation jumps around in a seemingly random manner. In this paper, we introduce a supplemental tool, the algebraic program stepper. An algebraic stepper shows computation as a mathematical
more » ... tion. Algebraic stepping could be particularly useful for novice programmers or programmers new to lazy programming. Mathematically speaking, an algebraic stepper renders computation as the standard rewriting sequence of a lazy lambda-calculus. Our novel lazy semantics introduces lazy evaluation as a form of parallel program rewriting. It represents a compromise between Launchbury's store-based semantics and a simple, axiomatic description of lazy computation as sharing-via-parameters. Finally, we prove that the stepper's run-time machinery correctly reconstructs the standard rewriting sequence.
arXiv:1108.4706v1 fatcat:mjtxojqhyrhgteqlyv6eu4vawu