Partial functions in comstructive formal theories

  • Robert L. Constable
Invited Lectures
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 145)


Partial functions abound in modern computing theory, and so any system which purports to naturally formalize it must treat them. Surprisingly the most common treatments do not work well for constructive formal systems, i.e., for those with computational content. Since constructive formal systems are significant in computer science, it is important to give an account of partial functions in them. This paper does that by construing a partial function φ:N→N as a total function f:Df→N for Df an inductively defined set generated simultaneously with f. This idea has appeared in other guises, at least in the author's previous work, but here it is presented in a pure form. It is compared to Scott's method of using total functions on domains. A formal system of arithmetic is defined to illustrate the ideas. The system is shown consistent relative to constructive type theory; from this result important corollaries are drawn about using the theory as a programming language.

Key words and phrases

automated automated logic Heyting arithmetic constructivity intuitionistic predicate calculus partial functions recursive functions programming logics program verification type theory type checking 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert L. Constable
    • 1
  1. 1.Cornell UniversityUSA

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