Bisimulation as path type for guarded recursive types

Niccolò Veltri, Rasmus Ejlers Møgelberg

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In type theory, coinductive types are used to represent processes, and are thus crucial for the formal verification of non-terminating reactive programs in proof assistants based on type theory, such as Coq and Agda. Currently, programming and reasoning about coinductive types is difficult for two reasons: The need for recursive definitions to be productive, and the lack of coincidence of the built-in identity types and the important notion of bisimilarity.
Guarded recursion in the sense of Nakano has recently been suggested as a possible approach to dealing with the problem of productivity, allowing this to be encoded in types. Indeed, coinductive types can be encoded using a combination of guarded recursion and universal quantification over clocks. This paper studies the notion of bisimilarity for guarded recursive types in Ticked Cubical Type Theory, an extension of Cubical Type Theory with guarded recursion. We prove that, for any functor, an abstract, category theoretic notion of bisimilarity for the final guarded coalgebra is equivalent (in the sense of homotopy type theory) to path equality (the primitive notion of equality in cubical type theory). As a worked example we study a guarded notion of labelled transition systems, and show that, as a special case of the general theorem, path equality coincides with an adaptation of the usual notion of bisimulation for processes. In particular, this implies that guarded recursion can be used to give simple equational reasoning proofs of bisimilarity. This work should be seen as a step towards obtaining bisimilarity as path equality for coinductive types using the encodings mentioned above.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the ACM on Programming Languages
Number of pages29
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Publication date2019
Article number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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