Link Search Menu Expand Document

Propositions in Lean

The engine that makes Lean interactive theorem verifier and prover is the idea that every piece of data has a type. This include mathematical data. So the natural numbers have (are) a type Nat as are the real numbers. Individual natural numbers are called terms of type Nat. To express this relationship, we write 5: Nat. If you know a little set theory, it will be harmless to imagine replacing the semi-colon with an element symbol $\in$.

Lean has type for propositions called Prop. We can think of this as the whole universe of possible propositions. A term of Prop is a individual proposition.

Suppose I have propositional variables $A,B,C$ in my logic. How do I tell Lean about them? We declare them as variables.

variable (A B C : Prop) 

A useful tool built into the system is the ability to check what Lean believes an expression means.

variable (D : Prop)
#check D 

The window pane on the right hand side of the editor reports D: Prop which Lean reporting back that indeed it thinks D is a proposition.

Next we can combine propositional variables into formulas.


Let’s see how each of our connectives, $\neg, \to, \lor, \land,$ and $\leftrightarrow$ are encoded in Lean.

Here is negation

variable (A : Prop)
#check ¬ A 

Lean tells that indeed ¬ A : Prop. Note that ¬ is a Unicode symbol (like emoji). In general, we do not have those on our keyboard but the editor nows how to fill it in if we type \neg and hit the spacebar.

Unicode is pretty but we can also use standard (ASCII) characters to access negation.

variable (A : Prop)
#check Not A 

will also report ¬ A : Prop.

We mentioned that everything in Lean has a type. What about Not? Checking it returns Not : Prop → Prop. If we interpret this (Unicode) arrow as an assignment, this makes sense. Given a formula X, ¬ X is another one.

Next, we turn to implication, $\to$. It has the same Unicode arrow ( typeset as \to)

variable (A B : Prop)
#check A  B

gives that A → B : Prop.

For conjunction, $\land$, we have (at least) three notations that all work:

variable (A B : Prop)
#check A  B
#check And A B 
#check A /\ B

Here is typed using \and.

Next we have disjunction.

variable (A B : Prop)
#check A  B /- typed as \or -/
#check Or A B 
#check A \/ B

Note the text between /- -/. This tells Lean that to ignore the what is written. They are only comments and not commands.

Finally, bi-implication.

variable (A B : Prop)
#check A  B /- typed as \iff -/
#check Iff A B 

Aside from negation, all of the other connectives take in two formulas and yield a single one. So if you #check Iff you will get Iff : Prop → Prop → Prop. What happens if you #check ↔?