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Section: New Results

Metatheory and development of Coq

Participants : Hugo Herbelin, Pierre Letouzey, Yann Régis-Gianas, Matthieu Sozeau, Gaëtan Gilbert, Cyprien Mangin, Théo Winterhalter, Théo Zimmermann, Thierry Martinez.

Homotopy type theory

Hugo Herbelin developed the syntax for a variant of Cohen, Coquand, Huber and Mörtberg's Cubical Type Theory where equality on types is defined to be equivalence of types, thus satisfying univalence by construction.

Proof irrelevance and Homotopy Type Theory

Gaëtan Gilbert (PhD student of N. Tabareau, Gallinette and M. Sozeau) continued developing the theory and implementation of strict propositions in the calculus of inductive constructions. In collaboration with Jesper Cockx (Chalmers), they developed this notion in full in an article at POPL 19 [30]. Strict propositions enjoy definitional proof-irrelevance and are compatible with both Univalence and Uniqueness of Identity Proofs, providing a foundation for further research in both directions: dealing with strict structures in homotopy type theory, and improving the support for programming with dependent types and proofs. They have shown in particular how to translate inductive types that can be seen as strict propositions into recursively defined types, providing a fix to the "singleton elimination" criterion used in Coq to treat the interaction of propositions (in Prop) and informative objects (in Type). Together with Pierre Letouzey, Matthieu Sozeau is pursuing an adaptation of the Prop sort informed by this new result. In particular, Pierre Letouzey is now experimenting with alternative ways to handle the accessibility arguments of Coq general fixpoints during extraction. Historically, the elimination of these arguments was a consequence of the accessibility inductive type being in Prop. But this can actually be seen as a more general dead-code elimination method. This leverages the need for accessibility to be in sort Prop, and hence opens new prospects concerning the Prop universe and the proof irrelevance.

Extensionality and Intensionality in Type Theory

Théo Winterhalter, Nicolas Tabareau and Matthieu Sozeau studied and formalised a complete translation from Extensional to Intensional Type Theory in Coq, now published at CPP 2019 [43]. They show that, contrary to the original paper proof of Oury, the target intensional type theory only needs to be extended with the Uniqueness of Identity Proofs principle and Functional Extensionality, settling concretely and formally a question that was studied semantically and up-to now only on paper by Hofmann and Altenkirch [61]. The translation was formalised using the Template-Coq framework and gives rise to an executable translation from partial terms of ETT into terms of Coq annotated with transports of equalities. This provides a simple way to justify the consistency of type theories extending the definitional equality relation by provable propositional equalities, and shows the equivalence of 2-level type theory [62] and the Homotopy Type System proposed by Voevodsky.

Dependent pattern-matching and recursion

Cyprien Mangin and Matthieu Sozeau have continued work on the Equations plugin of Coq, Equations now provides means to define nested, mutual and well-founded recursive definitions, together with a definitional compilation of dependent-pattern matching avoiding the use of axioms. In recent work, Matthieu Sozeau uncovered a new way to deal with dependent pattern-matching on inductive families avoiding more uses of the K axiom, inspired by the work of Cockx [74], that integrates well with the simplification engine developed for Equations. An article describing this work is in revision [58].

Thierry Martinez continued the implementation of a dependent pattern-matching compilation algorithm in Coq based on the PhD thesis work of Pierre Boutillier and on the internship work of Meven Bertrand. The algorithm based on small inversion and generalisation is the object of a paper to be submitted to the TYPES post-proceedings.

Explicit Cumulativity

Pierre Letouzey continued exploring with the help of Matthieu Sozeau a version of Coq's logic (CIC) where the cumulativity rule is explicit. This cumulativity rule is a form of coercion between Coq universes, and is done silently in Coq up to now. Having a version of CIC where the use of the cumulativity bewteen Prop and Type is traceable would be of great interest. In particular this would lead to a solid ground for the Coq extraction tool and solve some of its current limitations. Moreover, an explicit cumulativity would also help significantly the studies of Coq theoretical models. A prototype version of Coq is now available, but only a fragment of the standard library has been adapted to explicit cumulativity. In particular, the equalities of equalities currently need some amending, and this process is quite cumbersome.

Cumulativity for Inductive Types

Together with Amin Timany, Matthieu Sozeau developed the Calculus of Cumulative Inductive Constructions which extends the cumulativity relation of universes to universe polymorphic inductive types. This work was presented at FSCD 2018 [42]. The development of the model of this calculus suggested a refinement of the implementation which was integrated in Coq 8.8, providing a more flexible subtyping relation on inductive types in Coq. Notably, this work shrinks the gap to emulate the so-called "template" polymorphism of Coq with cumulative universe polymorphism. Cumulative Inductive Types also provide an apropriate basis to formalise the notions of small and large categories in type theory, avoiding the introduction of coercions. In particular, it provides a way to define a well-behaved category of types and functions and constructions on it, like the Yoneda embedding, which would not be expressible without cumulativity. Finally, Cumulative Inductive Types allow the definition of syntactic models of type theories with cumulativity inside Coq, as pioneered by Boulier et al [69].

Mathematical notations in Coq

Hugo Herbelin developed new extensions of the system of mathematical notation of Coq: support for autonomous auxiliary grammars, support for binders over arbitrary patterns, support for generic notations for applications.

Software engineering aspects of the development of Coq

Théo Zimmermann has studied software engineering and open collaboration aspects of the development of Coq.

Following the migration of the Coq bug tracker from Bugzilla to GitHub which he conducted in 2017, he analyzed data (extracted through the GitHub API), in collaboration with Annalí Casanueva Artís from the Paris School of Economics. The results show an increased number of bugs by core developers and an increased diversity of the people commenting bug reports. These results validate a posteriori the usefulness of such a switch. A paper [60] has been written and has been presented at the EAQSE workshop (without proceedings). The current objective is to publish the paper in the MSR 2019 conference.

Following discussions dating back from the end of 2017, he has founded the coq-community GitHub organisation in July 2018. This is a project for a collaborative, community-driven effort for the long-term maintenance and advertisement of Coq packages. Already 10 pre-existing Coq projects (plugins and libraries) have been moved to this organisation since then (seven of them are former Coq contribs that were fixed from time to time by the Coq developers themselves – mostly by Hugo Herbelin). The organisation also hosts a "manifesto" repository for general discussion, documentation and advice to developers (including already a few reusable templates for Coq projects), and a docker-coq project to provide reusable Docker images with Coq. The next objectives are to get started on the collaborative documentation (starting with a work by Pierre Castéran from LaBRI) and to create an editorial committee. Théo Zimmermann and Yann Régis-Gianas are preparing an article of the model proposed by the various existing *-community GitHub organisations (including the elm-community organisation from which coq-community was inspired, and ocaml-community which was influenced by coq-community itself).

In addition, Théo Zimmermann has coordinated efforts to improve the documentation of Coq, has documented the release process that he had put in place with Maxime Dénès, and has developed a GitHub / GitLab bot (in OCaml) that is used to automatise many useful functions for the Coq development (continuous integration and backporting of pull requests in particular). The goal is to make this bot modular and reusable for other projects.

Coordination of the development of Coq

The amount of contributions to the Coq system increased significantly in the recent years (around 50 pull-requests are reviewed, discussed and merged each month, approximately). Hugo Herbelin, Matthieu Sozeau and Théo Zimmermann, helped by members from Gallinette (Nantes) and Marelle (Sophia-Antipolis), devoted an important part of their time to coordinate the development, to review propositions of extensions of Coq from external and/or young contributors, and to propose themselves extensions (see the corresponding paragraphs).