Searching Entangled Program Spaces


Many problem domains, including program synthesis and rewrite-based optimization, require searching astronomically large spaces of programs. Existing approaches often rely on building specialized data structures—version-space algebras, finite tree automata, or e-graphs—to compactly represent such spaces. At their core, all these data structures exploit independence of subterms; as a result, they cannot efficiently represent more complex program spaces, where the choices of subterms are entangled.

We introduce equality-constrained tree automata (ECTAs), a new data structure, designed to compactly represent large spaces of programs with entangled subterms. We present efficient algorithms for extracting programs from ECTAs, implemented in a performant Haskell library, ecta. Using the ecta library, we construct Hectare, a type-driven program synthesizer for Haskell. Hectare significantly outperforms a state-of-the-art synthesizer Hoogle+—providing an average speedup of 8×—despite its implementation being an order of magnitude smaller.

In International Conference on Functional Programming (ICFP), ACM.