Calculus of constructions
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The Calculus of Constructions (CoC) is a significant type theory created by Thierry Coquand. It can serve as both a typed programming language and as constructive foundation for mathematics. For this second reason, the CoC and its derivatives have been the basis for Coq and other proof assistants.
Its derivatives include:
- Calculus of Inductive Constructions ("CiC") - added inductive types
- Calculus of (Co)Inductive Constructions (also "CiC"?) - added Coinduction
- predicative Calculus of Inductive Constructions ("pCiC") - removed some impredicativity
The CoC is a higher-order typed lambda calculus, initially developed by Thierry Coquand. It is well known for being at the top of Barendregt's lambda cube. It is possible within CoC to define functions from, say, integers to types, types to types as well as functions from integers to integers.
Derivatives of the CoC are used in other proof assistants, such as Matita.
The basics of the calculus of constructions
The Calculus of Constructions can be considered an extension of the Curry–Howard isomorphism. The Curry–Howard isomorphism associates a term in the simply typed lambda calculus with each natural-deduction proof in intuitionistic propositional logic. The Calculus of Constructions extends this isomorphism to proofs in the full intuitionistic predicate calculus, which includes proofs of quantified statements (which we will also call "propositions").
A term in the calculus of constructions is constructed using the following rules:
- T is a term (also called Type)
- P is a term (also called Prop, the type of all propositions)
- Variables (x, y, ...) are terms
- If and are terms, then so are
The calculus of constructions has five kinds of objects:
- proofs, which are terms whose types are propositions
- propositions, which are also known as small types
- predicates, which are functions that return propositions
- large types, which are the types of predicates. (P is an example of a large type)
- T itself, which is the type of large types.
The calculus of constructions allows proving typing judgments:
Which can be read as the implication
- If variables have types , then term has type .
The valid judgments for the calculus of constructions are derivable from a set of inference rules. In the following, we use to mean a sequence of type assignments , and we use K to mean either P or T. We shall write to mean " has type , and has type ". We shall write to mean the result of substituting the term for the variable in the term .
An inference rule is written in the form
- If is a valid judgment, then so is
Inference rules for the calculus of constructions
Defining logical operators
The calculus of constructions has very few basic operators: the only logical operator for forming propositions is . However, this one operator is sufficient to define all the other logical operators:
Defining data types
The basic data types used in computer science can be defined within the Calculus of Constructions:
- Disjoint union
- Lambda calculus
- Typed lambda calculus
- Lambda cube
- System F
- Curry–Howard isomorphism
- Intuitionistic logic
- Intuitionistic type theory
- Homotopy type theory
- Thierry Coquand and Gérard Huet: The Calculus of Constructions. Information and Computation, Vol. 76, Issue 2-3, 1988.
- For a source freely accessible online, see Coquand and Huet: The calculus of constructions. Technical Report 530, INRIA, Centre de Rocquencourt, 1986. Note terminology is rather different. For instance, () is written [x : A] B.
- M. W. Bunder and Jonathan P. Seldin: Variants of the Basic Calculus of Constructions. 2004.
- Maria João Frade (2009) Calculus of Inductive Constructions (talk).