 
Summary: A Structural Approach to Reversible Computation
Samson Abramsky
Oxford University Computing Laboratory
Abstract
Reversibility is a key issue in the interface between computation
and physics, and of growing importance as miniaturization progresses
towards its physical limits. Most foundational work on reversible com
puting to date has focussed on simulations of lowlevel machine mod
els. By contrast, we develop a more structural approach. We show how
highlevel functional programs can be mapped compositionally (i.e. in
a syntaxdirected fashion) into a simple kind of automata which are
immediately seen to be reversible. The size of the automaton is lin
ear in the size of the functional term. In mathematical terms, we are
building a concrete model of functional computation. This construc
tion stems directly from ideas arising in Geometry of Interaction and
Linear Logicbut can be understood without any knowledge of these
topics. In fact, it serves as an excellent introduction to them. At the
same time, an interesting logical delineation between reversible and
irreversible forms of computation emerges from our analysis.
1 Introduction
