Interactive theorem proving for mathematicians 15:10 Fri 5 Oct, 2018 :: Napier 208 :: A/Prof Scott Morrison :: Australian National University
Mathematicians use computers to write their proofs (LaTeX), and to do their calculations (Sage, Mathematica, Maple, Matlab, etc, as well as custom code for simulations or searches). However today we rarely use computers to help us to construct and understand proofs.
There is a long tradition in computer science of interactive and automatic theorem proving; particularly today these are important tools in engineering correct software, as well as in optimisation and compilation. There have been some notable examples of formalisation of modern mathematics (e.g. the odd order theorem, the Kepler conjecture, and the four-colour theorem). Even in these cases, huge engineering efforts were required to translate the mathematics to a form a computer could understand. Moreover, in most areas of research there is a huge gap between the interests of human mathematicians and the abilities of computer provers.
Nevertheless, I think it's time for mathematicians to start getting interested in interactive theorem provers! It's now possible to write proofs, and write tools that help write proofs, in languages which are expressive enough to encompass most of modern mathematics, and ergonomic enough to use for general purpose programming.
I'll give an informal introduction to dependent type theory (the logical foundation of many modern theorem provers), some examples of doing mathematics in such a system, and my experiences working with mathematics students in these systems.