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Ian Voysey, Cyrus Omar, Matthew Hammer.  2017.  Running Incomplete Programs. POPL 2017 Proceedings of the 44th ACM SIGPLAN Symposium on Principles of Programming Languages.

We typically only consider running programs that are completely written. Programmers end up inserting ad hoc dummy values into their incomplete programs to receive feedback about dynamic behavior. In this work we suggest an evaluation mechanism for incomplete programs, represented as terms with holes. Rather than immediately failing when a hole is encountered, evaluation propagates holes as far as possible. The result is a substantially tighter development loop. 

Cyrus Omar, Ian Voysey, Michael Hilton, Jonathan Aldrich, Matthew Hammer.  2017.  Hazelnut: a bidirectionally typed structure editor calculus. POPL 2017 Proceedings of the 44th ACM SIGPLAN Symposium on Principles of Programming Languages.

Structure editors allow programmers to edit the tree structure of a program directly. This can have cognitive benefits, particularly for novice and end-user programmers. It also simplifies matters for tool designers, because they do not need to contend with malformed program text. This paper introduces Hazelnut, a structure editor based on a small bidirectionally typed lambda calculus extended with holes and a cursor. Hazelnut goes one step beyond syntactic well-formedness: its edit actions operate over statically meaningful incomplete terms. Naïvely, this would force the programmer to construct terms in a rigid “outside-in” manner. To avoid this problem, the action semantics automatically places terms assigned a type that is inconsistent with the expected type inside a hole. This meaningfully defers the type consistency check until the term inside the hole is finished. Hazelnut is not intended as an end-user tool itself. Instead, it serves as a foundational account of typed structure editing. To that end, we describe how Hazelnut’s rich metatheory, which we have mechanized using the Agda proof assistant, serves as a guide when we extend the calculus to include binary sum types. We also discuss various interpretations of holes, and in so doing reveal connections with gradual typing and contextual modal type theory, the Curry-Howard interpretation of contextual modal logic. Finally, we discuss how Hazelnut’s semantics lends itself to implementation as an event-based functional reactive program. Our simple reference implementation is written using js_of_ocaml. 

Cyrus Omar, Ian Voysey, Michael Hilton, Joshua Sunshine, Claire Le Goues, Jonathan Aldrich, Matthew Hammer.  2017.  Toward Semantic Foundations for Program Editors. 2nd Summit on Advances in Programming Languages (SNAPL 2017).

Programming language definitions assign formal meaning to complete programs. Programmers, however, spend a substantial amount of time interacting with incomplete programs -- programs with holes, type inconsistencies and binding inconsistencies -- using tools like program editors and live programming environments (which interleave editing and evaluation). Semanticists have done comparatively little to formally characterize (1) the static and dynamic semantics of incomplete programs; (2) the actions available to programmers as they edit and inspect incomplete programs; and (3) the behavior of editor services that suggest likely edit actions to the programmer based on semantic information extracted from the incomplete program being edited, and from programs that the system has encountered in the past. As such, each tool designer has largely been left to develop their own ad hoc heuristics. 
This paper serves as a vision statement for a research program that seeks to develop these "missing" semantic foundations. Our hope is that these contributions, which will take the form of a series of simple formal calculi equipped with a tractable metatheory, will guide the design of a variety of current and future interactive programming tools, much as various lambda calculi have guided modern language designs. Our own research will apply these principles in the design of Hazel, an experimental live lab notebook programming environment designed for data science tasks. We plan to co-design the Hazel language with the editor so that we can explore concepts such as edit-time semantic conflict resolution mechanisms and mechanisms that allow library providers to install library-specific editor services.