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From Types to Sets by Local Type Definitions in Higher-Order Logic

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Interactive Theorem Proving (ITP 2016)

Part of the book series: Lecture Notes in Computer Science ((LNTCS,volume 9807))

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Types in Higher-Order Logic (HOL) are naturally interpreted as nonempty sets—this intuition is reflected in the type definition rule for the HOL-based systems (including Isabelle/HOL), where a new type can be defined whenever a nonempty set is exhibited. However, in HOL this definition mechanism cannot be applied inside proof contexts. We propose a more expressive type definition rule that addresses the limitation and we prove its soundness. This higher expressive power opens the opportunity for a HOL tool that relativizes type-based statements to more flexible set-based variants in a principled way. We also address particularities of Isabelle/HOL and show how to perform the relativization in the presence of type classes.

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  1. 1.

    Dependent type theory has its own pluses and minuses. Moreover, even if we came to the conclusion that the pluses prevail, we do not know how to combine dependent types with higher-order logic and the tools built around it. Hence the avoidance of the dependent types.

  2. 2.

    We silently assume parametricity of the quantifier \(\exists \) and \(\mathsf {P}\).

  3. 3.

    This is Wenzel’s approach [32] to represent axiomatic type classes by internalizing them as predicates on types, i.e., constants of type \(\forall \alpha .\;\mathsf {bool}\). As this particular type is not allowed in Isabelle, Wenzel uses instead \(\alpha \;\mathsf {itself} \rightarrow \mathsf {bool}\), where \(\alpha \;\mathsf {itself}\) is a singleton type.

  4. 4.

    Let us recall that \(\forall x.\,P\;x\) is a shorthand for \({{\mathsf {All}}}\;(\lambda x.\,P\;x)\) and \(\forall x \in A.\,P\;x\) for \({{\mathsf {Ball}}}\;A\;(\lambda x.\,P\;x)\), where \({{\mathsf {All}}}\) and \({{\mathsf {Ball}}}\) are the HOL combinators for quantification. Thus the statement about isomorphism between the two quantifications means isomorphism between \({{\mathsf {All}}}\) and \({{\mathsf {Ball}}}\;A\).

  5. 5.

    Unless there is a type depending on \(*\).

  6. 6.

    Again, the rigorous justification of this result is based on our work on Isabelle/HOL’s consistency [21] and can be found in the extended version of this paper [1].

  7. 7.

    These rules are related to Reynolds’s relational parametricity [28] and Wadler’s free theorems [31]. The Transfer tool is a working implementation of Mitchell’s representation independence [24] and it demonstrates that transferring of properties across related types can be organized and largely automated using relational parametricity.


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We are indebted to the reviewers for useful comments and suggestions. We gratefully acknowledge support from DFG through grant Ni 491/13-3 and from EPSRC through grant EP/N019547/1.

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Correspondence to Ondřej Kunčar .

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Kunčar, O., Popescu, A. (2016). From Types to Sets by Local Type Definitions in Higher-Order Logic. In: Blanchette, J., Merz, S. (eds) Interactive Theorem Proving. ITP 2016. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 9807. Springer, Cham.

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