A Theory of Termination via Indirection

Aquinas Hobor

Step-indexed models provide approximations to a class of domain equations and can prove type safety, partial correctness, and program equivalence; however, a common misconception is that they are inapplicable to liveness problems. We disprove this by applying step-indexing to develop the first Hoare logic of total correctness for a language with function pointers and semantic assertions. In fact, from a liveness perspective, our logic is stronger: we verify explicit time resource bounds. We apply our logic to examples containing nontrivial ``higher-order'' uses of function pointers and we prove soundness with respect to a standard operational semantics. Our core technique is very compact and may be applicable to other liveness problems. Our results are machine checked in Coq.