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Practical Foundations for Programming Languages by Robert Harper

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36 Assignable References

A reference to an assignable a is a value, written as & a, of reference type that uniquely determines the assignable a. A reference to an assignable provides the capability to get or set the contents of that assignable, even if the assignable itself is not in scope at the point at which it is used. Two references may also be compared for equality to test whether they govern the same underlying assignable. If two references are equal, then setting one will affect the result of getting the other; if they are not equal, then setting one cannot influence the result of getting from the other. Two references that govern the same underlying assignable are said to be aliases. The possibility of aliasing complicates reasoning ...

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