Modularity and implementation of mathematical operational semantics

M. Jaskelioff, N. Ghani, G. Hutton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Structural operational semantics is a popular technique for specifying the meaning of programs by means of inductive clauses. One seeks syntactic restrictions on those clauses so that the resulting operational semantics is well-behaved. This approach is simple and concrete but it has some drawbacks. Turi pioneered a more abstract categorical treatment based upon the idea that operational semantics is essentially a distribution of syntax over behaviour. In this article we take Turi s approach in two new directions. Firstly, we show how to write operational semantics as modular components and how to combine such components to specify complete languages. Secondly, we show how the categorical nature of Turi s operational semantics makes it ideal for implementation in a functional programming language such as Haskell.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-95
Number of pages21
JournalElectronic Notes in Theoretical Computer Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 8 Mar 2011


  • category theory
  • functional programming languages
  • Haskell
  • mathematical operational semantics
  • Modularity
  • Modular components
  • Operational semantics
  • Structural operational semantics


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