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Decidability

open import Agda.Primitive using (Level; __; lsuc; lzero)

open import Lang.dataStructures using (
  Bool; true; false;
; List;
  one; two; three; four; five; six; seven; eight; nine; ten; zero; succ;
  _::_; [])

open import Logic.logicBasics using (
;; ⟂-elim; ¬;
  not; contradiction; contrapos;
  _then_else_)

open import Types.equality using (__; Rel; REL)

module Logic.decidability where

Relations can de defined either as an inductive data type − the existence of the type implies that the relation exists. We say that the data type provides a witness that the relation is valid. The other way is to define relations as functions that compute whether the relation holds.

Consider the relation _<=_. If we have to prove that 2 <= 4, we can do that in two ways:

1. Evidence based

The Inductive relation:

data _<=_ : Set where
  ltz : {n :}  zero <= n
  lt : {m :}  {n :}  m <= n  (succ m) <= (succ n)

Proof that 2 ≤ 4:

2≤4 : two <= four
2≤4 = lt (lt ltz)

2. Computation based

Relation as a Function type:

infix 4 __

__ : Bool
zero ≤ n       =  true
succ m ≤ zero   =  false
succ m ≤ succ n  =  m ≤ n

Proof that 2 ≤ 4:

open import Types.equational
open ≡-Reasoning

twoLessThanFour : (two ≤ four) ≡ true
twoLessThanFour = begin
    two ≤ four
  ≡⟨⟩
    one ≤ three
  ≡⟨⟩
    zero ≤ two
  ≡⟨⟩
    true

We can always connect such forms of representation of the same underlying mathematical structures from the Computation based to evidence based:

T : Bool  Set
T true =
T false =

Like we saw for the proposition 2 ≤ 4, for any proposition P to be decidable, either we can compute P or ¬ P, i.e. either proposition P has a proof or it can been disproved. In the words of logic, a true/false decision problem is decidable if there exists an effective method for deriving the correct answer.

For representing this idea we use an inductive data type which has two constructors.

data Dec {p} (P : Set p) : Set p where
  yes : ( p :   P)  Dec P
  no  : (¬p : ¬ P)  Dec P

The computational equivalent of decidable relations would be:

Decidable :  {a b ℓ} {A : Set a} {B : Set b}  REL A B ℓ  Set _
Decidable __ =  x y  Dec (x ∼ y)

Decidability can be computed into a boolean value. We write that and some other useful machinery:

_:  {p} {P : Set p}  Dec P  Bool
⌊ yes _= true
⌊ no  _= false
True :  {p} {P : Set p}  Dec P  Set
True Q = T ⌊ Q ⌋
False :  {p} {P : Set p}  Dec P  Set
False Q = T (not ⌊ Q ⌋)
record Lift {a}(A : Set a) : Set (a ⊔ ℓ) where
  constructor lift
  field lower : A

module _ {p} {P : Set p} where
  From-yes : Dec P  Set p
  From-yes (yes _) = P
  From-yes (no  _) = Lift p ⊤

We can now use this machinery to prove that the relation <= is decidable for all x, y ∈ ℕ:

nothingIsLessThanZero :  {x :}  ¬ (succ x <= zero)
nothingIsLessThanZero ()

successionsAreLessToo :  {x y :}  ¬ (x <= y)  ¬ (succ x <= succ y)
successionsAreLessToo ¬x≤y (lt x≤y) = ¬x≤y x≤y

_≤isDecidable_ :  (m n :)  Dec (m <= n)
zero  ≤isDecidable n                   =  yes ltz
succ m ≤isDecidable zero               =  no nothingIsLessThanZero
succ m ≤isDecidable succ n with m ≤isDecidable n
...               | yes m≤n  =  yes (lt m≤n)
...               | no ¬m≤n  =  no (successionsAreLessToo ¬m≤n)

We have used the with abstraction above. It lets you pattern match on the result of an intermediate computation by effectively adding an extra argument to the left-hand side of your function. Refer to more documentation here.

Going Further

A theory is a set of formulas, often assumed to be closed under logical consequence. Decidability for a theory concerns whether there is an effective procedure that decides whether the formula is a member of the theory or not, given an arbitrary formula in the signature of the theory. The problem of decidability arises naturally when a theory is defined as the set of logical consequences of a fixed set of axioms.

Every inconsistent theory is decidable, as every formula in the signature of the theory will be a logical consequence of, and thus a member of, the theory. First-order logic is not decidable in general; in particular, the set of logical validities in any signature that includes equality and at least one other predicate with two or more arguments is not decidable. Logical systems extending first-order logic, such as second-order logic and type theory, are also undecidable.

Decidability and undecidability of an entire theory can be proven, one of the more famous proofs being Gödel’s incompleteness theorems. The machinery we defined here form the basis of a larger set of structures required to prove the above facts, including problems like prime number generation. In light of the complexity associated with such a task, we choose to move on instead.


Introduction