Locally Abstract, Globally Concrete Semantics of Concurrent Programming Languages


Formal, mathematically rigorous programming language semantics are the essential prerequisite for the design of logics and calculi that permit automated reasoning about concurrent programs. We propose a novel modular semantics designed to align smoothly with program logics used in deductive verification and formal specification of concurrent programs. Our semantics separates local evaluation of expressions and statements performed in an abstract, symbolic environment from their composition into global computations, at which point they are concretised. This makes incremental addition of new language concepts possible, without the need to revise the framework. The basis is a generalisation of the notion of a program trace as a sequence of evolving states that we enrich with event descriptors and trailing continuation markers. This allows to postpone scheduling constraints from the level of local evaluation to the global composition stage, where well-formedness predicates over the event structure declaratively characterise a wide range of concurrency models. We also illustrate how a sound program logic and calculus can be defined for this semantics.

ACM Transactions on Programming Languages and Systems