Department of Computer Science and Technology

Technical reports

Higher-order proof translation

Nikolai Sultana

April 2015, 158 pages

This technical report is based on a dissertation submitted April 2014 by the author for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy to the University of Cambridge, Trinity College.

DOI: 10.48456/tr-867


The case for interfacing logic tools together has been made countless times in the literature, but it is still an important research question. There are various logics and respective tools for carrying out formal developments, but practitioners still lament the difficulty of reliably exchanging mathematical data between tools.

Writing proof-translation tools is hard. The problem has both a theoretical side (to ensure that the translation is adequate) and a practical side (to ensure that the translation is feasible and usable). Moreover, the source and target proof formats might be less documented than desired (or even necessary), and this adds a dash of reverse-engineering to what should be a system integration task.

This dissertation studies proof translation for higher-order logic. We will look at the qualitative benefits of locating the translation close to the source (where the proof is generated), the target (where the proof is consumed), and in between (as an independent tool from the proof producer and consumer).

Two ideas are proposed to alleviate the difficulty of building proof translation tools. The first is a proof translation framework that is structured as a compiler. Its target is specified as an abstract machine, which captures the essential features of its implementations. This framework is designed to be performant and extensible. Second, we study proof transformations that convert refutation proofs from a broad class of consistency-preserving calculi (such as those used by many proof-finding tools) into proofs in validity-preserving calculi (the kind used by many proof-checking tools). The basic method is very simple, and involves applying a single transformation uniformly to all of the source calculi’s inferences, rather than applying ad hoc (rule specific) inference interpretations.

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BibTeX record

  author =	 {Sultana, Nikolai},
  title = 	 {{Higher-order proof translation}},
  year = 	 2015,
  month = 	 apr,
  url = 	 {},
  institution =  {University of Cambridge, Computer Laboratory},
  doi = 	 {10.48456/tr-867},
  number = 	 {UCAM-CL-TR-867}