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Conference Papers Year : 2022

On the Termination of Borrow Checking in Featherweight Rust

David J Pearce
Fausto Spoto


A distinguished feature of the Rust programming language is its ability to deallocate dynamically-allocated data structures as soon as they go out of scope, without relying on a garbage collector. At the same time, Rust lets programmers create references, called borrows, to data structures. A static borrow checker enforces that borrows can only be used in a controlled way, so that automatic deallocation does not introduce dangling references. Featherweight Rust provides a formalisation for a subset of Rust where borrow checking is encoded using flow typing [25]. However, we have identified a source of non-termination within the calculus which arises when typing environments contain cycles between variables. In fact, it turns out that well-typed programs cannot lead to such environments-but this was not immediately obvious from the presentation. This paper defines a simplification of Featherweight Rust, more amenable to formal proofs. Then it develops a sufficient condition that forbids cycles and, hence, guarantees termination. Furthermore, it proves that this condition is, in fact, maintained by Featherweight Rust for welltyped programs.
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Dates and versions

hal-04055346 , version 1 (02-04-2023)



Étienne Payet, David J Pearce, Fausto Spoto. On the Termination of Borrow Checking in Featherweight Rust. NASA Formal Methods (NFM 2022), Jyotirmoy V. Deshmukh; Klaus Havelund; Ivan Perez, May 2022, Pasadena (CA), United States. pp.411-430, ⟨10.1007/978-3-031-06773-0_22⟩. ⟨hal-04055346⟩
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