Book: A Theory of Objects

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We'd like to announce the availability of the book:

	A Theory of Objects

by Martin Abadi and Luca Cardelli.
Springer, ISBN 0-387-94775-2.

The web page for the book is:

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This book develops a theory of objects as a foundation for
object-oriented languages and programming. Our theory provides
explanations for object-oriented notions in terms of a few basic
primitives, and can be useful for the design and understanding of
programming languages.

There is a well-established theory of functions, the lambda-calculus,
that serves as a foundation for procedural languages. Our treatment of
object-oriented languages largely parallels existing literature on
procedural languages. However, our theory of objects is self-contained;
it is the first that does not require explicit reference to functions or

We study object calculi, which are formalisms at the same level of
abstraction as function calculi, but based exclusively on objects rather
than functions. Unlike function calculi, object calculi are designed
specifically for clarifying features of object-oriented languages. There
is a wide spectrum of relevant object calculi, just as there is a wide
spectrum of function calculi. We investigate untyped, simply-typed, and
polymorphic calculi, with both functional and imperative semantics.

The material in this book is based on research that we carried out
during the past three years; some of this material has appeared in
conference and journal articles. In the development of our ideas, we
built on previous work on the foundations of object-oriented programming
as represented, for example, by the collection of papers edited by
Gunter and Mitchell. That body of work produced an understanding of
subtyping and several explanations of objects in terms of functions and
records. We discuss some of those previous results in the course of the

The chapters of this book are grouped in four main parts, bracketed
between a Prologue and an Epilogue. The initial part, the Review,
contains a general non-technical explanation of object-oriented
concepts. Part I describes untyped and simply-typed formalisms for
objects and classes. Part II discusses polymorphism, data abstraction,
and the Self type, along with their connections to subtyping and
subclassing. Part III investigates subtyping between type operators,
which is more powerful than simple subtyping and supports more flexible
inheritance (for example, for binary methods). The final sections of the
book contain an Appendix summarizing our type rules, a list of figures,
a list of tables, a list of notations, and a list of languages.

The intended audience of the book consists of computer scientists,
professionals, and senior and graduate students with an interest in
modern language issues. The Review is accessible to programmers familiar
with at least one object-oriented language. It provides a general,
concise, and language-independent perspective on object-oriented
concepts, and should make up for lack of broad knowledge about objects.
An acquaintance with the lambda-calculus and with type systems is
helpful background for the rest of the book. Part I is technical but
relatively easy; it does not assume much expertise or skill in
programming-language theory. Parts II and III are more challenging.

Subsets of this book are suitable for advanced courses on the theory,
design, and structure of programming languages, even if not entirely
devoted to object-oriented languages. The book can be used to complement
standard object-oriented analysis, design, and programming texts.

 Luca Cardelli, Digital SRC, 130 Lytton Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301, USA.
 Tel:415 853-2110. Fax:415 853-2104. Email:luca@pa.dec.com. PGPkey:see Web.