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Untangling Mechanized Proofs (csail.mit.edu)
54 points by matt_d 7 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 11 comments





I find this very hopeful, as I feel that presentation should be a first-class consideration for these sorts of tools.

Math is something that happens in the human mind. It doesn't matter if the machine is uncovering the secrets of the Universe if no one can ever appreciate them, eh? I was explaining this to my sister this afternoon and to make the point I picked up a sliderule and slid the slipstick back and forth while pointedly not looking at the thing and asked her, "Am I doing math right now?"

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I'm trying to put together a simple, easy (relatively) to understand "stack" for this, starting with the theorem provers of Jens Otten: http://jens-otten.de/provers.html

(See also "How to Build an Automated Theorem Prover" http://www.jens-otten.de/tutorial_tableaux19/ )

Prolog is a very simple language, the theorem provers are only a dozen lines of code or so, and the sequent calculus prover at least generates proofs that I personally find easy to follow.

It doesn't go very far yet, but it's a start.

Any information on formal methods and automated theorem proving would be much appreciated.

(along the lines of:

Concrete Semantics https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22074483

Metamath Zero, a bootstrapping theorem prover https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21358674

The Future of Mathematics? [video] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21200721

"Building the Mathematical Library of the Future" https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25060613


A similar book to Concrete Semantics, which I love, is Formal Reasoning about Programs by the same group the OP link comes from: http://adam.chlipala.net/frap/frap_book.pdf

ML for the Working Programmer is written by Paulson, one of the main persons behind Isabelle, and ends up with a prover project: https://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~lp15/MLbook/

Paulson teaches an undergrad course in Cambridge which is now using Huth & Ryan as a textbook. It's an incredible book that focuses on logic, SAT solvers and model checking. Probably the place to begin. An incomplete draft 2nd edition is in the authors website: ftp://ftp.cs.bham.ac.uk/pub/authors/M.D.Ryan/tmp/Anongporn/Ch1+3.pdf

If you are interested in tableaux techniques, First-order Logic and Automated Theorem Proving by Fitting is a good text.

Personally, I think the place to start from is Huth & Ryan. Logic is the calculus of CS. Then progress to type theory using a book like TAPL by Pierce or Proofs and Types by Girard.

Then, depending on your interests, you can proceed to model checking, program analysis and theorem proving. For the first two, the classics are Katoen and Nielson & Nielson, respectively.


Thank you!

I wrote two reference type checkers for Lean and learned a lot about both the Lean kernel and the implementation of DTT; it's not an easy exercise, but I would recommend it. The ones I wrote are in a language that's not the easiest to read (though I did end up getting the performance to justify the language choice), but if any related questions come up feel free to contact me and I'll do my best to give a coherent answer: https://github.com/ammkrn/nanoda_lib

This paper on Lean's type theory dovetails nicely with any of the kernel implementations: https://github.com/digama0/lean-type-theory/releases/tag/v1....

Also this article is really neat, thanks OP. These kinds of visual representations and other alternative mediums you can use to document stuff are (imo) a really important and under-explored area.


Thanks!

> It doesn't matter if the machine is uncovering the secrets of the Universe if no one can ever appreciate them, eh?

It's possible with access to something that almost serves as an oracle like this, we can use it prove deeper things that we do understand, with only the details of this one portion left un-understood. You could just assume a proposition is true or false, and do the same by working with the assumption, but that can quickly combinatorically explode with multiple propositions.


Yes, but you still have a regress: you have to have good reason to trust the oracle.

(E.g. Yin-Yang – A tool for stress-testing SMT solvers https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25123138 They found a bunch of bugs in Z3 and CVC4!)


This is one area where Isabelle/Isar surpasses Coq in my experience, the proofs are simpler to follow because they somewhat mimic written English, and try to emulate flows of states as the author of this article mentions.

Isabelle's older apply-script syntax suffers from the same problem as Coq, but Isar seems to solve this problem more cleanly than this addon does for Coq, as it's built into the Isabelle ecosystem directly.

Edit: However, this is a neat augmentation to Coq that seems helpful. I commend the author, it looks well done.


Older versions of Coq used to include an Isar-like feature known as C-zar, or the "Mathematical Proof Language". It was quite intuitive to use, perhaps even moreso than Isar. Unfortunately it was also quite buggy and unmaintained, so it got removed in later releases. Within current versions of Coq, I think the "structuring" operators in Ssreflect could perhaps be used to replicate that proof format, but some extensions are needed. The basic operation "have ... by ..." is pretty much there, but an Isar-like proof language includes more than that.

The thing I love most about mechanized proofs is that my questions about the reasoning always have tangible answers, even if the answer is “we axiomatized this thing”.

The availability of the intermediate proof state as a part of the published object makes those answers that much easier to find. This is a really great project!


That is pretty cool! I have also tried to address this problem in the past, but by adding annotations to the proofs (https://github.com/andrew-bedford/coqatoo). It was only a proof-of-concept though.



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