Universal properties for universal types in bifibrational parametricity

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In the 1980s, John Reynolds postulated that a parametrically polymorphic function is an ad-hoc polymorphic function satisfying a uniformity principle. This allowed him to prove that his set-theoretic semantics has a relational lifting which satisfies the Identity Extension Lemma and the Abstraction Theorem. However, his definition (and subsequent variants) has only been given for specific models. In contrast, we give a model-independent axiomatic treatment by characterising Reynolds’ definition via a universal property, and show that the above results follow from this universal property in the axiomatic setting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)810–827
Number of pages18
JournalMathematical Structures in Computer Science
Issue number6
Early online date22 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2019


  • categorical semantics
  • comprehension categories
  • relational parametricity


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  • Parametric polymorphism - universally

    Ghani, N., Nordvall Forsberg, F. & Orsanigo, F., 24 Jun 2015, Logic, Language, Information, and Computation: 22nd International Workshop, WoLLIC 2015, Bloomington, IN, USA, July 20-23, 2015, Proceedings. de Paiva, V., de Queiroz, R., Moss, L. S., Leivant, D. & de Oliveira, A. G. (eds.). p. 81-92 12 p. (Lecture Notes in Computer Science; vol. 9160).

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    5 Citations (Scopus)
    152 Downloads (Pure)

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