Grounding Game Semantics in Categorical Algebra

Jérémie Koenig
(Yale University)

I present a formal connection between algebraic effects and game semantics, two important lines of work in programming languages semantics with applications in compositional software verification.

Specifically, the algebraic signature enumerating the possible side-effects of a computation can be read as a game, and strategies for this game constitute the free algebra for the signature in a category of complete partial orders (cpos). Hence, strategies provide a convenient model of computations with uninterpreted side-effects. In particular, the operational flavor of game semantics carries over to the algebraic context, in the form of the coincidence between the initial algebras and the terminal coalgebras of cpo endofunctors.

Conversely, the algebraic point of view sheds new light on the strategy constructions underlying game semantics. Strategy models can be reformulated as ideal completions of partial strategy trees (free dcpos on the term algebra). Extending the framework to multi-sorted signatures would make this construction available for a large class of games.

In Kohei Kishida: Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Applied Category Theory (ACT 2021), Cambridge, United Kingdom, 12-16th July 2021, Electronic Proceedings in Theoretical Computer Science 372, pp. 368–383.
Published: 3rd November 2022.

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