Section: Research Program

Trusted computer-algebra calculations


Handbooks collecting mathematical properties aim at serving as reference, therefore trusted, documents. The decision of several authors or maintainers of such knowledge bases to move from paper books [15] , [17] , [62] to websites and wikis (for instance http://dlmf.nist.gov/ for special functions or http://oeis.org/ for integer sequences) allows for a more collaborative effort in proof reading. Another step toward further confidence is to manage to generate the content of an encyclopedia by computer-algebra programs, as is the case with the Wolfram Functions Site (http://functions.wolfram.com/ ) or DDMF (http://ddmf.msr-inria.inria.fr/1.9.1/ddmf ). Yet, due to the lingering doubts about computer-algebra systems, some encyclopedias propose both cross-checking by different systems and handwritten companion paper proofs of their content ( ). As of today, there is no encyclopedia certified with formal proofs.

Computer algebra and symbolic logic

Several attempts have been made in order to extend existing computer-algebra systems with symbolic manipulations of logical formulas. Yet, these works are more about extending the expressivity of computer-algebra systems than about improving the standards of correctness and semantics of the systems. Conversely, several projects have addressed the communication of a proof system with a computer-algebra system, resulting in an increased automation available in the proof system, to the price of the uncertainty of the computations performed by this oracle.

Certifying systems for computer algebra

More ambitious projects have tried to design a new computer-algebra system providing an environment where the user could both program efficiently and elaborate formal and machine-checked proofs of correctness, by calling a general-purpose proof assistant like the Coq system. This approach requires a huge manpower and a daunting effort in order to re-implement a complete computer-algebra system, as well as the libraries of formal mathematics required by such formal proofs.

Semantics for computer algebra

The move to machine-checked proofs of the mathematical correctness of the output of computer-algebra implementations demands a prior clarification about the often implicit assumptions on which the presumably correctly implemented algorithms rely. Interestingly, this preliminary work, which could be considered as independent from a formal certification project, is seldom precise or even available in the literature.

Formal proofs for symbolic components of computer-algebra systems

A number of authors have investigated ways to organize the communication of a chosen computer-algebra system with a chosen proof assistant in order to certify specific components of the computer-algebra systems, experimenting various combinations of systems and various formats for mathematical exchanges. Another line of research consists in the implementation and certification of computer-algebra algorithms inside the logic [65] , [44] , [54] or as a proof-automation strategy. Normalization algorithms are of special interest when they allow to check results possibly obtained by an external computer-algebra oracle [37] . A discussion about the systematic separation of the search for a solution and the checking of the solution is already clearly outlined in [50] .

Formal proofs for numerical components of computer-algebra systems

Significant progress has been made in the certification of numerical applications by formal proofs. Libraries formalizing and implementing floating-point arithmetic as well as large numbers and arbitrary-precision arithmetic are available. These libraries are used to certify floating-point programs, implementations of mathematical functions and for applications like hybrid systems.