Deriving Pretty-Big-Step Semantics
from Small-Step Semantics

Casper Bach Poulsen and Peter D. Mosses


Big-step semantics for languages with abrupt termination and/or divergence suffer from a serious duplication problem, addressed by the novel ‘pretty-big-step’ style presented by Charguéraud at ESOP’13. Such rules are less concise than the corresponding small-step rules, but they have the same advantages as big-step rules for program correctness proofs.

Here, we show how to automatically derive pretty-big-step rules directly from small-step rules by ‘refocusing’. This gives the best of both worlds: we only need to write the relatively concise small-step specifications, but our reasoning can be big-step as well as small-step. The use of strictness annotations to derive small-step patience rules gives further conciseness.