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Milestones from the Pure Lisp Theorem Prover to ACL2. (English) Zbl 1427.68348
Summary: We discuss the evolutionary path from the Edinburgh Pure Lisp Theorem Prover of the early 1970s to its modern counterpart, A Computational Logic for Applicative Common Lisp, aka ACL2, which is in regular industrial use. Among the milestones in this evolution are the adoption of a first-order subset of a programming language as a logic; the analysis of recursive definitions to guess appropriate mathematical induction schemes; the use of simplification in inductive proofs; the incorporation of rewrite rules derived from user-suggested lemmas; the generalization of that idea to allow the user to affect other proof techniques soundly; the recognition that evaluation efficiency is paramount so that formal models can serve as prototypes and the logic can be used to reprogram the system; use of the system to prove extensions correct; the incorporation of decision procedures; the provision of hierarchically structured libraries of previously certified results to configure the prover; the provision of system programming features to allow verification tools to be built and verified within the system; the release of many verified collections of lemmas supporting floating point, programming languages, and hardware platforms; a verified “bit-bashing” tool exploiting verified BDD and checked external SAT procedures; and the provision of certain higher-order features within the first-order setting. As will become apparent, some of these milestones were suggested or even prototyped by users. Some additional non-technical aspects of the project are also critical. Among these are a devotion to soundness, good documentation, freely available source code, production of a system usable by industry, responsiveness to user needs, and a dedicated, passionate, and brilliant user community.
MSC:
68V15 Theorem proving (automated and interactive theorem provers, deduction, resolution, etc.)
68-03 History of computer science
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