Asynchronous Probabilistic Couplings in Higher-Order Separation Logic

Simon Oddershede Gregersen, Alejandro Aguirre, Philipp G. Haselwarter, Joseph Tassarotti, Lars Birkedal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Probabilistic couplings are the foundation for many probabilistic relational program logics and arise when relating random sampling statements across two programs. In relational program logics, this manifests as dedicated coupling rules that, e.g., say we may reason as if two sampling statements return the same value. However, this approach fundamentally requires aligning or "synchronizing"the sampling statements of the two programs which is not always possible. In this paper, we develop Clutch, a higher-order probabilistic relational separation logic that addresses this issue by supporting asynchronous probabilistic couplings. We use Clutch to develop a logical step-indexed logical relation to reason about contextual refinement and equivalence of higher-order programs written in a rich language with a probabilistic choice operator, higher-order local state, and impredicative polymorphism. Finally, we demonstrate our approach on a number of case studies. All the results that appear in the paper have been formalized in the Coq proof assistant using the Coquelicot library and the Iris separation logic framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number26
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Programming Languages
StatePublished - Jan 5 2024


  • Logical Relations
  • Probabilistic Couplings
  • Separation Logic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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