Panagiotis (Pete) Manolios
College of Computer and Information Science
Northeastern University

Integrating Testing and Interactive Theorem Proving

Harsh Chamarthi, Peter C. Dillinger, Matt Kaufmann, and Panagiotis Manolios.
ACL2, 2011.


Using an interactive theorem prover to reason about programs involves a sequence of interactions where the user challenges the theorem prover with conjectures. Invariably, many of the conjectures posed are in fact false, and users often spend considerable effort examining the theorem prover's output before realizing this. We present a synergistic integration of testing with theorem proving, implemented in the ACL2 Sedan (ACL2s), for automatically generating concrete counterexamples. Our method uses the full power of the theorem prover and associated libraries to simplify conjectures; this simplification can transform conjectures for which finding counterexamples is hard into conjectures where finding counterexamples is trivial. In fact, our approach even leads to better theorem proving, e.g., if testing shows that a generalization step leads to a false conjecture, we force the theorem prover to backtrack, allowing it to pursue more fruitful options that may yield a proof. The focus of the paper is on the engineering of a synergistic integration of testing with interactive theorem proving; this includes extending ACL2 with new functionality that we expect to be of general interest. We also discuss our experience in using ACL2s to teach freshman students how to reason about their programs.

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