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Section: New Results

Metatheory and development of Coq

Participants : Félix Castro, Emilio Jesús Gallego Arias, Gaëtan Gilbert, Hugo Herbelin, Pierre Letouzey, Cyprien Mangin, Thierry Martinez, Yann Régis-Gianas, Matthieu Sozeau, Théo Winterhalter, Théo Zimmermann.

Meta-programming and Metatheory of Coq

The MetaCoq project started last year, providing the means to program program transformations and general purpose plugins in Coq, using a quoting/unquoting mechanism. This year, they extended the framework to specify the theory, including the reduction, cumulativity and typing relations of the Polymorphic, Cumulative Calculus of Inductive Constructions at the basis of Coq. Matthieu Sozeau, together with Simon Boulier, Nicolas Tabareau and Théo Winterhalter at Galinette, Cyril Cohen at Marelle, Yannick Forster and Fabian Kunze at the University of Saarbrucken and Abhishek Anand and Gregory Malecha at BedRock Systems, Inc co-authored [54] a full description of the resulting theory (to appear in JAR). This allows for the verification of term manipulations with respect to typing: syntactic translations but also reflexive tactics glue code can hence be verified. The article also develops an alternative extraction mode to OCaml allowing the efficient compilation and execution of meta-programs written in the Template Monad. An example partial extraction of Coq programs to call-by-value pure lambda-calculus is developed this way.

Following up on this work, Matthieu Sozeau led a metatheoretical study of Coq in Coq, proving the basic metatheoretical properties of the typing relation, and developed together with Yannick Forster (Saarbrucken) and Simon Boulier, Nicolas Tabareau and Théo Winterhalter (Gallinette) verified correct versions of type-checking and erasure for a large subset of Coq. This work involved the production of a fully-precise specification for the type theory implemented by Coq, cleaning up the previously untested typing specification, and variants of the algorithms used in its kernel ammenable to proofs of correctness. The corresponding implementations can be extracted and provide an alternative, verified checker for Coq terms, that can run on medium-sized examples. This work will be presented [35] at POPL in New Orleans in January 2020.

Homotopy type theory

Hugo Moeneclaey started in September 2019 a PhD on the syntax of spheres in homotopy type theory, under the supervision of Hugo Herbelin.

Hugo Herbelin and Hugo Moeneclaey worked on the syntax of a variant of Cohen, Coquand, Huber and Mörtberg's Cubical Type Theory justified by an iterated parametricity model where equality on types is defined to be equivalence of types, thus satisfying univalence by construction.

Computational contents of the axiom of choice

Hugo Herbelin developed in collaboration with Nuria Brede (U. Potsdam) a unified logical structure for choice and bar induction principles.

Computational contents of Gödel's constructible universe

Félix Castro started his PhD under the supervision of Hugo Herbelin and Alexandre Miquel in September 2019. His PhD work will focus on the computational contents of Gödel's constructible universe. Previously, he worked on the formalisation of the ramified analytical hierarchy in classical second-order arithmetic.

Dependent pattern-matching and recursion

Together with Cyprien Mangin, Matthieu Sozeau refined the treatment of dependent pattern-matching in the Equations plugin. By carefully studying the type of equalities between indexed inductive types, he devised a new criterion for the elimination of equalities between inductive families based on the notion of forced arguments of constructors, resulting in a simplification of the setup of Cockx and Devriese [68] for simplification of dependent pattern-matching without K. This improved simplifier is part of the latest version of the Equations plugin, which also provides better support for the definition of mutual and well-founded recursive definitions on indexed inductive types. This work was presented at ICFP 2019 in Berlin [36]. A longer journal version is in preparation, along with a dedicated tutorial on Equations slated for inclusion in a new volume of the Software Foundations series dedicated to advanced tools.

Thierry Martinez continued part time 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.

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 analysed 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 quantitative results were completed with qualitative data coming from interviews with main Coq developers, which help interpret them. They validate a posteriori the usefulness of such a switch. A paper [43] has been published at ICSME 2019, which is the leading conference on the topic of Software Maintenance and Evolution.

Besides, Théo Zimmermann also studied and influenced the pull-based model that is now used for the development of Coq, he improved the release management process and tools, he studied package distribution and maintenance, in particular with the foundation of the coq-community organisation in 2018, which has taken off by attracting 19 maintainers, and hosting 25 projects. All of these topics are presented in the PhD thesis [28] that he defended in December 2019.

Emilio J. Gallego Arias and Théo Zimmerman took the roles of release managers for the Coq 8.12 and will oversee this release, planned for mid-2020.

Emilio J. Gallego Arias and Théo Zimmerman discussed on future plans for compositional proof checking using the Dune build system, which will include a new library format for Coq. The Dune team was informed, with Emilio J. Gallego Arias participating in the bi-weekly developer meetings. Emilio J. Gallego Arias also started discussion with the Debian OCaml maintainers (who are located at IRIF) as to see how to better integrate Dune with the Debian packaging workflow.

Emilio J. Gallego Arias designed the Coq instrumentation used in the  [103] paper, which collects and analyses changes to proof scripts.

Emilio J. Gallego Arias and Karl Palmskog released a new version of the Coq SerAPI tool, which has been used in some recent proof engineering efforts, such as  [65], the machine-learning environments CoqGYM and Proverbot9001  [108], [55], offering state of the art proof automation after training with proof data sets, and the educational user interface WaterProof [56]. SerAPI has also been used in some other works undergoing review and thus yet not public.

Emilio J. Gallego Arias and Shachar Itzhaky released a new version of the educational Coq frontend jsCoq [10], and assisted a few users who have been preparing courses using it.

Emilio J. Gallego Arias maintains an ongoing collaboration with the Deducteam group at Inria Saclay on the topic of interactive proof methods and standards; this has resulted in the release of an experimental LSP server for the Lambdapi theorem prover.

Emilio J. Gallego Arias, Hugo Herbelin, and Théo Zimmerman participate in the Logipedia project led by Gilles Dowek, which aims to develop a standard proof interchange format.

Software Infrastructure

Emilio J. Gallego Arias did significant work to refactor the Coq codebase in preparation for further work on incremental and multi-core aware type checking.

Dissemination activities

Emilio J. Gallego Arias and Théo Zimmerman organised the Coq meetup, an after-work event targeting industry and other communities outside academia.

Coordination of the development of Coq

Hugo Herbelin, Matthieu Sozeau, Emilio J. Gallego Arias 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.