Coq Formalization of ZFC Set Theory for Teaching Scenarios

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    Discrete mathematics is a foundation course for computer-related majors, and propositional logic, first-order logic, and the axiomatic set theory are important parts of this course. Teaching practice shows that beginners find it difficult to accurately understand abstract concepts, such as syntax, semantics, and reasoning system. In recent years, some scholars have begun introducing interactive theorem provers into teaching to help students construct formal proofs so that they can understand logic systems more thoroughly. However, directly employing the existing theorem provers will increase students' learning burden since these tools have a high threshold for getting started with them. To address this problem, we develop a prover for the Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory with the axiom of Choice (ZFC) in Coq for teaching scenarios. Specifically, the first-order logical reasoning system and the axiomatic set theory ZFC are formalized, and several automated proof tactics specific to reasoning rules are then developed. Students can utilize these automated proof tactics to construct formal proofs of theorems in a textbook-style concise proving environment. This tool has been introduced into the teaching of the course of discrete mathematics for freshmen. Students with no prior theorem-proving experience can quickly construct formal proofs of theorems including mathematical induction and Peano arithmetic with this tool, which verifies the practical effectiveness of this tool.

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Xinyi Wan, Ke Xu, Qinxiang Cao. Coq Formalization of ZFC Set Theory for Teaching Scenarios. International Journal of Software and Informatics, 2023,13(3):323~357

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  • Received:September 05,2022
  • Revised:October 13,2022
  • Adopted:December 14,2022
  • Online: September 27,2023
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