Program constructions that are safe for bisimulation

Studia Logica 60 (2):311-330 (1998)
Abstract
It has been known since the seventies that the formulas of modal logic are invariant for bisimulations between possible worlds models — while conversely, all bisimulation-invariant first-order formulas are modally definable. In this paper, we extend this semantic style of analysis from modal formulas to dynamic program operations. We show that the usual regular operations are safe for bisimulation, in the sense that the transition relations of their values respect any given bisimulation for their arguments. Our main result is a complete syntactic characterization of all first-order definable program operations that are safe for bisimulation. This is a semantic functional completeness result for programming, which may be contrasted with the more usual analysis in terms of computational power. The 'Safety Theorem' can be modulated in several ways. We conclude with a list of variants, extensions, and further developments.
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