Intuition in formal proof : a novel framework for combining mathematical tools
Meikle, Laura Isabel
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This doctoral thesis addresses one major difficulty in formal proof: removing obstructions to intuition which hamper the proof endeavour. We investigate this in the context of formally verifying geometric algorithms using the theorem prover Isabelle, by first proving the Graham’s Scan algorithm for finding convex hulls, then using the challenges we encountered as motivations for the design of a general, modular framework for combining mathematical tools. We introduce our integration framework — the Prover’s Palette, describing in detail the guiding principles from software engineering and the key differentiator of our approach — emphasising the role of the user. Two integrations are described, using the framework to extend Eclipse Proof General so that the computer algebra systems QEPCAD and Maple are directly available in an Isabelle proof context, capable of running either fully automated or with user customisation. The versatility of the approach is illustrated by showing a variety of ways that these tools can be used to streamline the theorem proving process, enriching the user’s intuition rather than disrupting it. The usefulness of our approach is then demonstrated through the formal verification of an algorithm for computing Delaunay triangulations in the Prover’s Palette.