Continuation Passing Style for Effect Handlers

Publication Information

Daniel Hillerström, Sam Lindley, Robert Atkey, and KC Sivaramakrishnan. Continuation Passing Style for Effect Handlers. In Dale Miller, editor, 2nd International Conference on Formal Structures for Computation and Deduction (FSCD 2017), volume 84 of Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs). 2017.
DOI: 10.4230/LIPIcs.FSCD.2017.18


We present Continuation Passing Style (CPS) translations for Plotkin and Pretnar's effect handlers with Hillerström and Lindley's row-typed fine-grain call-by-value calculus of effect handlers as the source language. CPS translations of handlers are interesting theoretically, to explain the semantics of handlers, and also offer a practical implementation technique that does not require special support in the target language's runtime.

We begin with a first-order CPS translation into untyped lambda calculus which manages a stack of continuations and handlers as a curried sequence of arguments. We then refine the initial CPS translation first by uncurrying it to yield a properly tail-recursive translation and second by making it higher-order in order to contract administrative redexes at translation time. We prove that the higher-order CPS translation simulates effect handler reduction. We have implemented the higher-order CPS translation as a JavaScript backend for the Links programming language.