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Introduction and Contents

This is the reference manual of Coq. Coq is an interactive theorem prover. It lets you formalize mathematical concepts and then helps you interactively generate machine-checked proofs of theorems. Machine checking gives users much more confidence that the proofs are correct compared to human-generated and -checked proofs. Coq has been used in a number of flagship verification projects, including the CompCert verified C compiler, and has served to verify the proof of the four color theorem (among many other mathematical formalizations).

Users generate proofs by entering a series of tactics that constitute steps in the proof. There are many built-in tactics, some of which are elementary, while others implement complex decision procedures (such as lia, a decision procedure for linear integer arithmetic). Ltac and its planned replacement, Ltac2, provide languages to define new tactics by combining existing tactics with looping and conditional constructs. These permit automation of large parts of proofs and sometimes entire proofs. Furthermore, users can add novel tactics or functionality by creating Coq plugins using OCaml.

The Coq kernel, a small part of Coq, does the final verification that the tactic-generated proof is valid. Usually the tactic-generated proof is indeed correct, but delegating proof verification to the kernel means that even if a tactic is buggy, it won't be able to introduce an incorrect proof into the system.

Finally, Coq also supports extraction of verified programs to programming languages such as OCaml and Haskell. This provides a way of executing Coq code efficiently and can be used to create verified software libraries.

To learn Coq, beginners are advised to first start with a tutorial / book. Several such tutorials / books are listed at https://coq.inria.fr/documentation.

This manual is organized in three main parts, plus an appendix:

  • The first part presents the specification language of Coq, that allows to define programs and state mathematical theorems. Core language presents the language that the kernel of Coq understands. Language extensions presents the richer language, with notations, implicits, etc. that a user can use and which is translated down to the language of the kernel by means of an "elaboration process".
  • The second part presents the interactive proof mode, the central feature of Coq. Writing proofs introduces this interactive proof mode and the available proof languages. Built-in decision procedures and programmable tactics presents some more advanced tactics, while Creating new tactics is about the languages that allow a user to combine tactics together and develop new ones.
  • The third part shows how to use Coq in practice. Libraries and plugins presents some of the essential reusable blocks from the ecosystem and some particularly important extensions such as the program extraction mechanism. Command-line and graphical tools documents important tools that a user needs to build a Coq project.
  • In the appendix, History and recent changes presents the history of Coq and changes in recent releases. This is an important reference if you upgrade the version of Coq that you use. The various indexes are very useful to quickly browse the manual and find what you are looking for. They are often the main entry point to the manual.

The full table of contents is presented below:

Contents

Specification language

Proofs

Using Coq

Appendix

Note

License

This material (the Coq Reference Manual) may be distributed only subject to the terms and conditions set forth in the Open Publication License, v1.0 or later (the latest version is presently available at http://www.opencontent.org/openpub). Options A and B are not elected.