Department of Computer Science and Technology

Technical reports

Proof style

John Harrison

January 1997, 22 pages


We are concerned with how to communicate a mathematical proof to a computer theorem prover. This can be done in many ways, while allowing the machine to generate a completely formal proof object. The most obvious choice is the amount of guidance required from the user, or from the machine perspective, the degree of automation provided. But another important consideration, which we consider particularly significant, is the bias towards a ‘procedural’ or ‘declarative’ proof style. We will explore this choice in depth, and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of declarative and procedural styles for proofs in pure mathematics and for verification applications. We conclude with a brief summary of our own experiments in trying to combine both approaches.

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BibTeX record

  author =	 {Harrison, John},
  title = 	 {{Proof style}},
  year = 	 1997,
  month = 	 jan,
  url = 	 {},
  institution =  {University of Cambridge, Computer Laboratory},
  number = 	 {UCAM-CL-TR-410}