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Computation by Prophecy

Paper in proceeding, 2007

We describe a new method to represent (partial) recursive functions in type theory. For every recursive definition, we define a co-inductive type of prophecies that characterises the traces of the computation of the function. The structure of a prophecy is a possibly infinite tree, which is coerced by linearisation to a type of partial results defined by applying the delay monad to the co-domain of the function. Using induction on a weight relation defined on the prophecies, we can reason about them and prove that the formal type-theoretic version of the recursive function, resulting from the present method, satisfies the recursive equations of the original function. The advantages of this technique over the method previously developed by the authors via a special-purpose accessibility (domain) predicate are: there is no need of extra logical arguments in the definition of the recursive function; the function can be applied to any element in its domain, regardless of termination properties; we obtain a type of partial recursive functions between any two given types; and composition of recursive functions can be easily defined.

partial functions

type theory

general recursion