@MISC{Paulson97genericautomatic, author = {Lawrence C. Paulson}, title = {Generic Automatic Proof Tools}, year = {1997} }

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Abstract

This article explores a synthesis between two distinct traditions in automated reasoning: resolution and interaction. In particular it discusses Isabelle, an interactive theorem prover based upon a form of resolution. It aims to demonstrate the value of proof tools that, compared with traditional resolution systems, seem absurdly limited. Isabelle's classical reasoner searches for proofs using a tableau approach. The reasoner is generic: it accepts rules proved in applied theories, involving defined connectives. The reasoner works in a variety of domains without reducing them to first-order logic. Resolution systems such as Otter [13], setheo [11] and pttp [34] represent automatic theorem proving at its highest point of refinement. They achieve extremely high inference rates and can run continuously for days without running out of storage. They can crack many of the toughest challenge problems that have been circulated. While they exploit many specialized algorithms, data structures and optimizations, they rely crucially on unification. Interactive systems let the user direct each step of the proof. They can implement complicated formalisms, chosen for maximum expressiveness, and typically based on the typed -calculus. hol [7, 8] and pvs [23] are used for verification of hardware and real-time systems, while Coq [4] is used for formalizing mathematics. Large numbers of axioms --- say, the description of a cpu design --- do not overwhelm them, because finding the proof is the user's job. Partial automation is sometimes provided, but a resolution enthusiast would regret the lack of uniform search procedures based on unification. One procedure provided by most interactive provers is rewriting. Rewrite rules have many advantages. Unlike programmed inference rules, they are ...