[isabelle-dev] Feature suggestion: apply (meth[1!])

Joachim Breitner breitner at kit.edu
Fri Mar 8 13:46:37 CET 2013

Dear Isabelle developers,

I’d like to suggest a feature, and submit a patch:

Sometimes, when I’m writing apply-script style proofs, I have wanted a
way to modify a proof method foo to “Try foo on the first goal. If it
solves the goal, good, if it does not solve it, fail”.

This came up in the following code:

qed (subst fibs.simps, (subst fib.simps)?, simp add: nth_zipWith nth_tail)+

After some change further up, the call to simp would not fully solve a
goal any more, and then this would loop. If I could have specified
something like

qed ((subst fibs.simps, (subst fib.simps)?, simp add: nth_zipWith nth_tail)[1!])+

It would have stopped at the first goal that was not solvable by this

(Originally posted at http://stackoverflow.com/questions/15290300)

It would also be useful to annotate large apply-script style proof, to
record where goals are closed. This way, after later changes, it is
easier to fix the proofs.

I’d like to propose a syntax that extends the existing [n] modifier by
an exclamation mark, with the intended meaning that I know or expect the
method to solve these goals, and that I want it to fail if it does not.

As the n in [n] is already optional with a default to 1, this implies
that appending [!] to a method will either solve the first goal or fail.

I wanted to see if I could implement such a feature myself and came up
with the attached patch – maybe it is already sufficient? If accepted I
will follow up with a documentation patch to §6.3.1 of the reference


Dipl.-Math. Dipl.-Inform. Joachim Breitner
Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter
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