6. The WhyML Language Reference

In this chapter, we describe the syntax and semantics of WhyML.

6.1. Lexical Conventions

Blank characters are space, horizontal tab, carriage return, and line feed. Blanks separate lexemes but are otherwise ignored. Comments are enclosed by (* and *) and can be nested. Note that (*) does not start a comment.

Strings are enclosed in double quotes ("). The backslash character \, is used for escaping purposes. The following escape sequences are allowed:

  • \ followed by a new line allows for multi-line strings. The leading spaces immediately after the new line are ignored.

  • \\ and \" for the backslash and double quote respectively.

  • \n, \r, and \t for the new line feed, carriage return, and horizontal tab character.

  • \DDD, \oOOO, and \xXX, where DDD is a decimal value in the interval 0-255, OOO an octal value in the interval 0-377, and XX an hexadecimal value. Sequences of this form can be used to encode Unicode characters, in particular non printable ASCII characters.

  • any other escape sequence results in a parsing error.

The syntax for numerical constants is given by the following rules:

digit      ::=  "0" - "9"
hex_digit  ::=  "0" - "9" | "a" - "f" | "A" - "F"
oct_digit  ::=  "0" - "7"
bin_digit  ::=  "0" | "1"
integer    ::=  digit (digit | "_")*
                | ("0x" | "0X") hex_digit (hex_digit | "_")*
                | ("0o" | "0O") oct_digit (oct_digit | "_")*
                | ("0b" | "0B") bin_digit (bin_digit | "_")*
real       ::=  digit+ exponent
                | digit+ "." digit* exponent?
                | digit* "." digit+ exponent?
                | ("0x" | "0X") hex_digit+ h_exponent
                | ("0x" | "0X") hex_digit+ "." hex_digit* h_exponent?
                | ("0x" | "0X") hex_digit* "." hex_digit+ h_exponent?
exponent   ::=  ("e" | "E") ("-" | "+")? digit+
h_exponent ::=  ("p" | "P") ("-" | "+")? digit+
char       ::=  "a" - "z" | "A" - "Z" | "0" - "9"
                | " " | "!" | "#" | "$" | "%" | "&" | "'" | "("
                | ")" | "*" | "+" | "," | "-" | "." | "/" | ":"
                | ";" | "<" | "=" | ">" | "?" | "@" | "[" | "]"
                | "^" | "_" | "`" | "\\" | "\n" | "\r" | "\t" | '\"'
                | "\" ("0" | "1") digit digit
                | "\" "2" ("0" - "4") digit
                | "\" "2" "5" ("0" - "5")
                | "\x" hex_digit hex_digit
                | "\o" ("0" - "3" ) oct_digit oct_digit
string     ::=  '"' char* '"'

Integer and real constants have arbitrary precision. Integer constants can be given in base 10, 16, 8 or 2. Real constants can be given in base 10 or 16. Notice that the exponent in hexadecimal real constants is written in base 10.

Identifiers are composed of letters, digits, underscores, and primes. The syntax distinguishes identifiers that start with a lowercase letter or an underscore (lident_nq), identifiers that start with an uppercase letter (uident_nq), and identifiers that start with a prime (qident, used exclusively for type variables):

alpha     ::=  "a" - "z" | "A" - "Z"
suffix    ::=  (alpha | "'"* ("0" - "9" | "_")*)* "'"*
lident_nq ::=  ("a" - "z") suffix* | "_" suffix+
uident_nq ::=  ("A" - "Z") suffix*
ident_nq  ::=  lident_nq | uident_nq
qident    ::=  "'" ("a" - "z") suffix*

Identifiers that contain a prime followed by a letter, such as int32'max, are reserved for symbols introduced by Why3 and cannot be used for user-defined symbols.

lident ::=  lident_nq ("'" alpha suffix)*
uident ::=  lident_nq ("'" alpha suffix)*
ident  ::=  lident | uident

In order to refer to symbols introduced in different namespaces (scopes), we can put a dot-separated “qualifier prefix” in front of an identifier (e.g., Map.S.get). This allows us to use the symbol get from the scope Map.S without importing it in the current namespace:

qualifier ::=  (uident ".")+
lqualid   ::=  qualifier? lident
uqualid   ::=  qualifier? uident

All parenthesised expressions in WhyML (types, patterns, logical terms, program expressions) admit a qualifier before the opening parenthesis, e.g., Map.S.(get m i). This imports the indicated scope into the current namespace during the parsing of the expression under the qualifier. For the sake of convenience, the parentheses can be omitted when the expression itself is enclosed in parentheses, square brackets or curly braces.

Prefix and infix operators are built from characters organized in four precedence groups (op_char_1 to op_char_4), with optional primes at the end:

op_char_1    ::=  "=" | "<" | ">" | "~"
op_char_2    ::=  "+" | "-"
op_char_3    ::=  "*" | "/" | "\" | "%"
op_char_4    ::=  "!" | "$" | "&" | "?" | "@" | "^" | "." | ":" | "|" | "#"
op_char_1234 ::=  op_char_1 | op_char_2 | op_char_3 | op_char_4
op_char_234  ::=  op_char_2 | op_char_3 | op_char_4
op_char_34   ::=  op_char_3 | op_char_4
infix_op_1   ::=  op_char_1234* op_char_1 op_char_1234* "'"*
infix_op_2   ::=  op_char_234* op_char_2 op_char_234* "'"*
infix_op_3   ::=  op_char_34* op_char_3 op_char_34* "'"*
infix_op_4   ::=  op_char_4+ "'"*
prefix_op    ::=  op_char_1234+ "'"*
tight_op     ::=  ("!" | "?") op_char_4* "'"*

Infix operators from a high-numbered group bind stronger than the infix operators from a low-numbered group. For example, infix operator .*. from group 3 would have a higher precedence than infix operator ->- from group 1. Prefix operators always bind stronger than infix operators. The so-called “tight operators” are prefix operators that have even higher precedence than the juxtaposition (application) operator, allowing us to write expressions like inv !x without parentheses.

Finally, any identifier, term, formula, or expression in a WhyML source can be tagged either with a string attribute or a location:

attribute ::=  "[@" ... "]"
               | "[#" string digit+ digit+ digit+ "]"

An attribute cannot contain newlines or closing square brackets; leading and trailing spaces are ignored. A location consists of a file name in double quotes, a line number, and starting and ending character positions.

6.2. Type Expressions

WhyML features an ML-style type system with polymorphic types, variants (sum types), and records that can have mutable fields. The syntax for type expressions is the following:

type     ::=  lqualid type_arg+   ; polymorphic type symbol
              | type "->" type   ; mapping type (right-associative)
              | type_arg
type_arg ::=  lqualid   ; monomorphic type symbol (sort)
              | qident   ; type variable
              | "()"   ; unit type
              | "(" type ("," type)+ ")"   ; tuple type
              | "{" type "}"   ; snapshot type
              | qualifier? "(" type ")"   ; type in a scope

Built-in types are int (arbitrary precision integers), real (real numbers), bool, the arrow type (also called the mapping type), and the tuple types. The empty tuple type is also called the unit type and can be written as unit.

Note that the syntax for type expressions notably differs from the usual ML syntax. In particular, the type of polymorphic lists is written list 'a, and not 'a list.

Snapshot types are specific to WhyML, they denote the types of ghost values produced by pure logical functions in WhyML programs. A snapshot of an immutable type is the type itself; thus, {int} is the same as int and {list 'a} is the same as list 'a. A snapshot of a mutable type, however, represents a snapshot value which cannot be modified anymore. Thus, a snapshot array a of type {array int} can be read from (a[42] is accepted) but not written into (a[42] <- 0 is rejected). Generally speaking, a program function that expects an argument of a mutable type will accept an argument of the corresponding snapshot type as long as it is not modified by the function.

6.3. Logical Expressions

A significant part of a typical WhyML source file is occupied by non-executable logical content intended for specification and proof: function contracts, assertions, definitions of logical functions and predicates, axioms, lemmas, etc.

6.3.1. Terms and formulas

Logical expressions are called terms. Boolean terms are called formulas. Internally, Why3 distinguishes the proper formulas (produced by predicate symbols, propositional connectives and quantifiers) and the terms of type bool (produced by Boolean variables and logical functions that return bool). However, this distinction is not enforced on the syntactical level, and Why3 will perform the necessary conversions behind the scenes.

The syntax of WhyML terms is given in term.

term0      ::=  integer   ; integer constant
                | real   ; real constant
                | "true" | "false"   ; Boolean constant
                | "()"   ; empty tuple
                | string ; string constant
                | qualid   ; qualified identifier
                | qualifier? "(" term ")"   ; term in a scope
                | qualifier? "begin" term "end"   ; idem
                | tight_op term   ; tight operator
                | "{" term_field+ "}"   ; record
                | "{" term "with" term_field+ "}"   ; record update
                | term "." lqualid   ; record field access
                | term "[" term "]" "'"*   ; collection access
                | term "[" term "<-" term "]" "'"*   ; collection update
                | term "[" term ".." term "]" "'"*   ; collection slice
                | term "[" term ".." "]" "'"*   ; right-open slice
                | term "[" ".." term "]" "'"*   ; left-open slice
                | "[|" (term "=>" term ";")* ("_" "=>" term)? "|]" ; function literal
                | "[|" (term ";")+ "|]" ; function literal (domain over nat)
                | term term+   ; application
                | prefix_op term   ; prefix operator
                | term infix_op_4 term   ; infix operator 4
                | term infix_op_3 term   ; infix operator 3
                | term infix_op_2 term   ; infix operator 2
                | term "at" uident   ; past value
                | "old" term   ; initial value
                | term infix_op_1 term   ; infix operator 1
                | "not" term   ; negation
                | term "/\" term   ; conjunction
                | term "&&" term   ; asymmetric conjunction
                | term "\/" term   ; disjunction
                | term "||" term   ; asymmetric disjunction
                | term "by" term   ; proof indication
                | term "so" term   ; consequence indication
                | term "->" term   ; implication
                | term "<->" term   ; equivalence
                | term ":" type   ; type cast
                | attribute+ term   ; attributes
                | term ("," term)+   ; tuple
                | quantifier quant_vars triggers? "." term   ; quantifier
                | ...   ; (to be continued in term)
formula    ::=  term   ; no distinction as far as syntax is concerned
term_field ::=  lqualid "=" term ";"   ; field = value
qualid     ::=  qualifier? (lident_ext | uident)   ; qualified identifier
lident_ext ::=  lident   ; lowercase identifier
                | "(" ident_op ")"   ; operator identifier
                | "(" ident_op ")" ("_" | "'") alpha suffix*   ; associated identifier
ident_op   ::=   infix_op_1   ; infix operator 1
                | infix_op_2   ; infix operator 2
                | infix_op_3   ; infix operator 3
                | infix_op_4   ; infix operator 4
                | prefix_op "_"   ; prefix operator
                | tight_op "_"?   ; tight operator
                | "[" "]" "'" *   ; collection access
                | "[" "<-" "]" "'"*   ; collection update
                | "[" "]" "'"* "<-"   ; in-place update
                | "[" ".." "]" "'"*   ; collection slice
                | "[" "_" ".." "]" "'"*   ; right-open slice
                | "[" ".." "_" "]" "'"*   ; left-open slice
quantifier ::=  "forall" | "exists"
quant_vars ::=  quant_cast ("," quant_cast)*
quant_cast ::=  binder+ (":" type)?
binder     ::=  "_" | bound_var
bound_var  ::=  lident attribute*
triggers   ::=  "[" trigger ("|" trigger)* "]"
trigger    ::=  term ("," term)*

The various constructs have the following priorities and associativities, from lowest to greatest priority:



if then else / let in



-> / <-> / by / so


\/ / ||


/\ / &&



infix-op level 1


at / old

infix-op level 2


infix-op level 3


infix-op level 4



function application


brackets / ternary brackets


For example, as was mentioned above, tight operators have the highest precedence of all operators, so that -p.x denotes the negation of the record field p.x, whereas !p.x denotes the field x of a record stored in the reference p.

Infix operators from groups 2-4 are left-associative. Infix operators from group 1 are right-associative and can be chained. For example, the term 0 <= i < j < length a is parsed as the conjunction of three inequalities 0 <= i, i < j, and j < length a. Note that infix symbols of level 1 include equality (=) and disequality (<>).

An operator in parentheses acts as an identifier referring to that operator, for example, in a definition. To distinguish between prefix and infix operators, an underscore symbol is appended at the end: for example, (-) refers to the binary subtraction and (-_) to the unary negation. Tight operators cannot be used as infix operators, and thus do not require disambiguation.

As with normal identifiers, we can put a qualifier over a parenthesised operator, e.g., Map.S.([]) m i. Also, as noted above, a qualifier can be put over a parenthesised term, and the parentheses can be omitted if the term is a record or a record update.

Note the curryfied syntax for function application, though partial application is not allowed (rejected at typing).

6.3.2. Specific syntax for collections

In addition to prefix and infix operators, WhyML supports several mixfix bracket operators to manipulate various collection types: dictionaries, arrays, sequences, etc.

Bracket operators do not have any predefined meaning and may be used to denote access and update operations for various user-defined collection types. We can introduce multiple bracket operations in the same scope by disambiguating them with primes after the closing bracket: for example, a[i] may denote array access and s[i]' sequence access. Notice that the in-place update operator a[i] <- v cannot be used inside logical terms: all effectful operations are restricted to program expressions. To represent the result of a collection update, we should use a pure logical update operator a[i <- v] instead. WhyML supports “associated” names for operators, obtained by adding a suffix after the parenthesised operator name. For example, an axiom that represents the specification of the infix operator (+) may be called (+)'spec or (+)_spec. As with normal identifiers, names with a letter after a prime, such as (+)'spec, can only be introduced by Why3, and not by the user in a WhyML source.

WhyML provides a special syntax for function literals. The term [|t1 => u1; ...; tn => un; _ => default|], where t1, ..., tn have some type t and u1, ..., un, default some type u, represents a total function of the form fun x -> if x = t1 then u1 else if ... else if x = tn then un else default. The default value can be omitted in which case the last value will be taken as the default value. For instance, the function literal [|t1 => u1|] represents the term fun x -> if x = t1 then u1 else u1. When the domain of the function ranges over an initial sequence of the natural numbers it is possible to write [|t1;t2;t3|] as a shortcut for [|0 => t1; 1 => t2; 2 => t3|]. Function literals cannot be empty.

6.3.3. The “at” and “old” operators

The at and old operators are used inside postconditions and assertions to refer to the value of a mutable program variable at some past moment of execution. These operators have higher precedence than the infix operators from group 1 (infix_op_1): old i > j is parsed as (old i) > j and not as old (i > j).

Within a postcondition, old t refers to the value of term t in the pre-state. Within the scope of a code label L, introduced with label L in ..., the term t at L refers to the value of term t at the program point corresponding to L.

Note that old can be used in annotations contained in the function body as well (assertions, loop invariants), with the exact same meaning: it refers to the pre-state of the function. In particular, old t in a loop invariant does not refer to the program point right before the loop but to the function entry.

Whenever old t or t at L refers to a program point at which none of the variables in t is defined, Why3 emits a warning “this `at’/`old’ operator is never used” and the operator is ignored. For instance, the following code

let x = ref 0 in assert { old !x = !x }

emits a warning and is provable, as it amounts to proving 0=0. Similarly, if old t or t at L refers to a term t that is immutable, Why3 emits the same warning and ignores the operator.

Caveat: Whenever the term t contains several variables, some of them being meaningful at the corresponding program point but others not being in scope or being immutable, there is no warning and the operator old/at is applied where it is defined and ignored elsewhere. This is convenient when writing terms such as old a[i] where a makes sense in the pre-state but i does not.

6.3.4. Non-standard connectives

The propositional connectives in WhyML formulas are listed in term. The non-standard connectives — asymmetric conjunction (&&), asymmetric disjunction (||), proof indication (by), and consequence indication (so) — are used to control the goal-splitting transformations of Why3 and provide integrated proofs for WhyML assertions, postconditions, lemmas, etc. The semantics of these connectives follows the rules below:

  • A proof task for A && B is split into separate tasks for A and A -> B. If A && B occurs as a premise, it behaves as a normal conjunction.

  • A case analysis over A || B is split into disjoint cases A and not A /\ B. If A || B occurs as a goal, it behaves as a normal disjunction.

  • An occurrence of A by B generates a side condition B -> A (the proof justifies the affirmation). When A by B occurs as a premise, it is reduced to A (the proof is discarded). When A by B occurs as a goal, it is reduced to B (the proof is verified).

  • An occurrence of A so B generates a side condition A -> B (the premise justifies the conclusion). When A so B occurs as a premise, it is reduced to the conjunction (we use both the premise and the conclusion). When A so B occurs as a goal, it is reduced to A (the premise is verified).

For example, full splitting of the goal (A by (exists x. B so C)) && D produces four subgoals: exists x. B (the premise is verified), forall x. B -> C (the premise justifies the conclusion), (exists x. B /\ C) -> A (the proof justifies the affirmation), and finally, A -> D (the proof of A is discarded and A is used to prove D).

The behavior of the splitting transformations is further controlled by attributes [@stop_split] and [@case_split]. Consult the documentation of transformation split_goal in Section 12.5 for details.

Among the propositional connectives, not has the highest precedence, && has the same precedence as /\ (weaker than negation), || has the same precedence as \/ (weaker than conjunction), by, so, ->, and <-> all have the same precedence (weaker than disjunction). All binary connectives except equivalence are right-associative. Equivalence is non-associative and is chained instead: A <-> B <-> C is transformed into a conjunction of A <-> B and B <-> C. To reduce ambiguity, WhyML forbids to place a non-parenthesised implication at the right-hand side of an equivalence: A <-> B -> C is rejected.

6.3.5. Conditionals, “let” bindings and pattern-matching

term      ::=  term0
               | "if" term "then" term "else" term   ; conditional
               | "match" term "with" term_case+ "end"   ; pattern matching
               | "let" pattern "=" term "in" term   ; let-binding
               | "let" symbol param+ "=" term "in" term   ; mapping definition
               | "fun" param+ "->" term   ; unnamed mapping
term_case ::=  "|" pattern "->" term
pattern   ::=  binder   ; variable or "_"
               | "()"   ; empty tuple
               | "{" (lqualid "=" pattern ";")+ "}"   ; record pattern
               | uqualid pattern*   ; constructor
               | "ghost" pattern   ; ghost sub-pattern
               | pattern "as" "ghost"? bound_var   ; named sub-pattern
               | pattern "," pattern   ; tuple pattern
               | pattern "|" pattern   ; "or" pattern
               | qualifier? "(" pattern ")"   ; pattern in a scope
symbol    ::=  lident_ext attribute*   ; user-defined symbol
param     ::=  type_arg   ; unnamed typed
               | binder   ; (un)named untyped
               | "(" "ghost"? type ")"   ; unnamed typed
               | "(" "ghost"? binder ")"   ; (un)named untyped
               | "(" "ghost"? binder+ ":" type ")"   ; multi-variable typed

Above, we find the more advanced term constructions: conditionals, let-bindings, pattern matching, and local function definitions, either via the let-in construction or the fun keyword. The pure logical functions defined in this way are called mappings; they are first-class values of “arrow” type t -> u.

The patterns are similar to those of OCaml, though the when clauses and numerical constants are not supported. Unlike in OCaml, as binds stronger than the comma: in the pattern (p,q as x), variable x is bound to the value matched by pattern q. Also notice the closing end after the match with term. A let in construction with a non-trivial pattern is translated as a match with term with a single branch.

Inside logical terms, pattern matching must be exhaustive: WhyML rejects a term like let Some x = o in e, where o is a variable of an option type. In program expressions, non-exhaustive pattern matching is accepted and a proof obligation is generated to show that the values not covered cannot occur in execution.

The syntax of parameters in user-defined operations—first-class mappings, top-level logical functions and predicates, and program functions—is rather flexible in WhyML. Like in OCaml, the user can specify the name of a parameter without its type and let the type be inferred from the definition. Unlike in OCaml, the user can also specify the type of the parameter without giving its name. This is convenient when the symbol declaration does not provide the actual definition or specification of the symbol, and thus only the type signature is of relevance. For example, one can declare an abstract binary function that adds an element to a set simply by writing function add 'a (set 'a): set 'a. A standalone non-qualified lowercase identifier without attributes is treated as a type name when the definition is not provided, and as a parameter name otherwise.

Ghost patterns, ghost variables after as, and ghost parameters in function definitions are only used in program code, and not allowed in logical terms.

6.4. Program Expressions

The syntax of program expressions is given below. As before, the constructions are listed in the order of decreasing precedence. The rules for tight, prefix, infix, and bracket operators are the same as for logical terms. In particular, the infix operators from group 1 (infix_op_1) can be chained. Notice that binary operators && and || denote here the usual lazy conjunction and disjunction, respectively.

expr         ::=  integer   ; integer constant
                  | real   ; real constant
                  | "true" | "false"   ; Boolean constant
                  | "()"   ; empty tuple
                  | string ; string constant
                  | qualid   ; identifier in a scope
                  | qualifier? "(" expr ")"   ; expression in a scope
                  | qualifier? "begin" expr "end"   ; idem
                  | tight_op expr   ; tight operator
                  | "{" (lqualid "=" expr ";")+ "}"   ; record
                  | "{" expr "with" (lqualid "=" expr ";")+ "}"   ; record update
                  | expr "." lqualid   ; record field access
                  | expr "[" expr "]" "'"*   ; collection access
                  | expr "[" expr "<-" expr "]" "'"*   ; collection update
                  | expr "[" expr ".." expr "]" "'"*   ; collection slice
                  | expr "[" expr ".." "]" "'"*   ; right-open slice
                  | expr "[" ".." expr "]" "'"*   ; left-open slice
                  | "[|" (expr "=>" expr ";")* ("_" "=>" expr)? "|]" ; function literal
                  | "[|" (expr ";")+ "|]" ; function literal (domain over nat)
                  | expr expr+   ; application
                  | prefix_op expr   ; prefix operator
                  | expr infix_op_4 expr   ; infix operator 4
                  | expr infix_op_3 expr   ; infix operator 3
                  | expr infix_op_2 expr   ; infix operator 2
                  | expr infix_op_1 expr   ; infix operator 1
                  | "not" expr   ; negation
                  | expr "&&" expr   ; lazy conjunction
                  | expr "||" expr   ; lazy disjunction
                  | expr ":" type   ; type cast
                  | attribute+ expr   ; attributes
                  | "ghost" expr   ; ghost expression
                  | expr ("," expr)+   ; tuple
                  | expr "<-" expr   ; assignment
                  | expr spec+   ; added specification
                  | "if" expr "then" expr ("else" expr)?   ; conditional
                  | "match" expr "with" ("|" pattern "->" expr)+ "end"   ; pattern matching
                  | qualifier? "begin" spec+ expr "end"   ; abstract block
                  | expr ";" expr   ; sequence
                  | "let" pattern "=" expr "in" expr   ; let-binding
                  | "let" fun_defn "in" expr   ; local function
                  | "let" "rec" fun_defn ("with" fun_defn)* "in" expr   ; recursive function
                  | "fun" param+ spec* "->" spec* expr   ; unnamed function
                  | "any" result spec*   ; arbitrary value
                  | "while" expr "do" invariant* variant? expr "done"   ; while loop
                  | "for" lident "=" expr ("to" | "downto") expr "do" invariant* expr "done"   ; for loop
                  | "for" pattern "in" expr "with" uident ("as" lident_nq)? "do"  invariant* variant? expr "done" ; for each loop
                  | "break" lident?   ; loop break
                  | "continue" lident?   ; loop continue
                  | ("assert" | "assume" | "check") "{" term "}"   ; assertion
                  | "raise" uqualid expr?   ; exception raising
                  | "raise" "(" uqualid expr? ")"
                  | "try" expr "with" ("|" handler)+ "end"   ; exception catching
                  | "(" expr ")"   ; parentheses
                  | "label" uident "in" expr   ; label
handler      ::=  uqualid pattern? "->" expr   ; exception handler
fun_defn     ::=  fun_head spec* "=" spec* expr   ; function definition
fun_head     ::=  "ghost"? kind? symbol param+ (":" result)?   ; function header
kind         ::=  "function" | "predicate" | "lemma"   ; function kind
result       ::=  ret_type
                  | "(" ret_type ("," ret_type)* ")"
                  | "(" ret_name ("," ret_name)* ")"
ret_type     ::=  "ghost"? type   ; unnamed result
ret_name     ::=  "ghost"? binder ":" type   ; named result
spec         ::=  "requires" ident? "{" term "}"   ; pre-condition
                  | "ensures" ident? "{" term "}"   ; post-condition
                  | "returns" "{" ("|" pattern "->" term)+ "}"   ; post-condition
                  | "raises" "{" ("|" pattern "->" term)+ "}"   ; exceptional post-c.
                  | "raises" "{" uqualid ("," uqualid)* "}"   ; raised exceptions
                  | "reads" "{" lqualid ("," lqualid)* "}"   ; external reads
                  | "writes" "{" path ("," path)* "}"   ; memory writes
                  | "alias" "{" alias ("," alias)* "}"   ; memory aliases
                  | variant
                  | "diverges"   ; may not terminate
                  | ("reads" | "writes" | "alias") "{" "}"   ; empty effect
path         ::=  lqualid ("." lqualid)*   ; v.field1.field2
alias        ::=  path "with" path   ; arg1 with result
invariant    ::=  "invariant" ident? "{" term "}"   ; loop and type invariant
variant      ::=  "variant" ident? "{" variant_term ("," variant_term)* "}"   ; termination variant
variant_term ::=  term ("with" lqualid)?   ; variant term + WF-order

6.4.1. Ghost expressions

Keyword ghost marks the expression as ghost code added for verification purposes. Ghost code is removed from the final code intended for execution, and thus cannot affect the computation of the program results nor the content of the observable memory.

6.4.2. Assignment expressions

Assignment updates in place a mutable record field or an element of a collection. The former can be done simultaneously on a tuple of values: x.f, y.g <- a, b. The latter form, a[i] <- v, amounts to a call of the ternary bracket operator ([]<-) and cannot be used in a multiple assignment.

6.4.3. Auto-dereference: simplified usage of mutable variables

Some syntactic sugar is provided to ease the use of mutable variables (aka references), in such a way that the bang character is no more needed to access the value of a reference, in both logic and programs. This syntactic sugar summarized in the following table.

auto-dereference syntax

desugared to

let &x = ... in

let (x: ref ...) = ... in

f x

f x.contents

x <- ...

x.contents <- ...

let ref x = ...

let &x = ref ...

Notice that

  • the & marker adds the typing constraint (x: ref ...);

  • top-level let/val ref and let/val & are allowed;

  • auto-dereferencing works in logic, but such variables cannot be introduced inside logical terms.

Here is an example:

let ref x = 0 in while x < 100 do invariant { 0 <= x <= 100 } x <- x + 1 done

That syntactic sugar is further extended to pattern matching, function parameters, and reference passing, as follows.

auto-dereference syntax

desugared to

match e with (x,&y) -> y end

match e with (x,(y: ref ...)) -> y.contents end

let incr (&x: ref int) =
  x <- x + 1

let f () =
  let ref x = 0 in
  incr x;
let incr (x: ref int) =
  x.contents <- x.contents + 1

let f () =
  let x = ref 0 in
  incr x;

let incr (ref x: int) ...

let incr (&x: ref int) ...

The type annotation is not required. Let-functions with such formal parameters also prevent the actual argument from auto-dereferencing when used in logic. Pure logical symbols cannot be declared with such parameters.

Auto-dereference suppression does not work in the middle of a relation chain: in 0 < x :< 17, x will be dereferenced even if (:<) expects a ref-parameter on the left.

Finally, that syntactic sugar applies to the caller side:

auto-dereference syntax

desugared to

let f () =
  let ref x = 0 in
  g &x
let f () =
  let x = ref 0 in
  g x

The & marker can only be attached to a variable. Works in logic.

Ref-binders and &-binders in variable declarations, patterns, and function parameters do not require importing ref.Ref. Any example that does not use references inside data structures can be rewritten by using ref-binders, without importing ref.Ref.

Explicit use of type symbol ref, program function ref, or field contents requires importing ref.Ref or why3.Ref.Ref. Operations (:=) and (!) require importing ref.Ref. Note that operation (:=) is fully subsumed by direct assignment (<-).

6.4.4. Evaluation order

In applications, arguments are evaluated from right to left. This includes applications of infix operators, with the only exception of lazy operators && and || which evaluate from left to right, lazily.

6.4.5. The “for” loop

The “for” loop of Why3 has the following general form:

for v=e1 to e2 do invariant { i } e3 done

Here, v is a variable identifier, that is bound by the loop statement and of type int ; e1 and e2 are program expressions of type int, and e3 is an expression of type unit. The variable v may occur both in i and e3, and is not mutable. The execution of such a loop amounts to first evaluate e1 and e2 to values n1 and n2. If n1 >= n2 then the loop is not executed at all, otherwise it is executed iteratively for v taking all the values between n1 and n2 included.

Regarding verification conditions, one must prove that i[v <- n1] holds (invariant initialization) ; and that forall n. n1 <= n <= n2 /\ i[v <- n] -> i[v <- n+1] (invariant preservation). At loop exit, the property which is known is i[v <- n2+1] (notice the index n2+1). A special case occurs when the initial value n1 is larger than n2+1: in that case the VC generator does not produce any VC to prove, the loop just acts as a no-op instruction. Yet in the case when n1 = n2+1, the formula i[v <- n2+1] is asserted and thus need to be proved as a VC.

The variant with keyword downto instead of to iterates backwards.

It is also possible for v to be an integer range type (see Section 6.5.3) instead of an integer.

6.4.6. The “for each” loop

The “for each” loop of Why3 has the following syntax:

for p in e1 with S do invariant/variant... e2 done

Here, p is a pattern, S is a namespace, and e1 and e2 are program expressions. Such a for each loop is syntactic sugar for the following:

let it = S.create e1 in
  while true do
    let p = S.next it in
with S.Done -> ()

That is, namespace S is assumed to declare at least a function create and a function next, and an exception Done. The latter is used to signal the end of the iteration. As shown above, the iterator is named it. It can be referred to within annotations. A different name can be specified, using syntax with S as x do.

6.4.7. Break & Continue

The break and continue statements can be used in while, for and for-each loops, with the expected semantics. The statements take an optional identifier which can be used to break out of nested loops. This identifier can be defined using label like in the following example:

label A in
while true do
  while true do
    break A (* abort the outer loop *)

6.4.8. Function literals

Function literals can be written in expressions the same way as they are in terms but there are a few subtleties that one must bear in mind. First of all, if the domain of the literal is of type t then an equality infix operator = should exist. For instance, the literal [|t1 => u1|] with t1 of type t, is only considered well typed if the infix operator = of type t -> t -> bool is visible in the current scope. This problem does not exist in terms because the equality in terms is polymorphic.

Second, the function literal expression [|t1 => u1; t2 => u2; _ => u3|] will be translated into the following expression:

let def'e = u3 in
let d'i1 = t2 in
let r'i1 = u2 in
let d'i0 = t1 in
let r'i0 = u1 in
fun x'x -> if x'x = d'i0 then r'i0 else
           if x'x = d'i1 then r'i1 else

6.4.9. The any expression

The general form of the any expression is the following.

any <type> <contract>

This expression non-deterministically evaluates to a value of the given type that satisfies the contract. For example, the code

let x = any int ensures { 0 <= result < 100 } in

will give to x any non-negative integer value smaller than 100.

As for contracts on functions, it is allowed to name the result or even give a pattern for it. For example the following expression returns a pair of integers which first component is smaller than the second.

any (int,int) returns { (a,b) -> a <= b }

Notice that an any expression is not supposed to have side effects nor raise exceptions, hence its contract cannot include any writes or raises clauses.

To ensure that this construction is safe, it is mandatory to show that there is always at least one possible value to return. It means that the VC generator produces a proof obligation of form

exists result:<type>. <post-condition>

In that respect, notice the difference with the construct

val x:<type> <contract> in x

which will not generate any proof obligation, meaning that the existence of the value x is taken for granted.

6.5. Modules

A WhyML input file is a (possibly empty) list of modules

file           ::=  module*
module         ::=  "module" uident_nq attribute* (":" tqualid)? decl* "end"
decl           ::=  "type" type_decl ("with" type_decl)*
                    | "constant" constant_decl
                    | "function" function_decl ("with" logic_decl)*
                    | "predicate" predicate_decl ("with" logic_decl)*
                    | "inductive" inductive_decl ("with" inductive_decl)*
                    | "coinductive" inductive_decl ("with" inductive_decl)*
                    | "axiom" ident_nq ":" formula
                    | "lemma" ident_nq ":" formula
                    | "goal"  ident_nq ":" formula
                    | "use" imp_exp tqualid ("as" uident)?
                    | "clone" imp_exp tqualid ("as" uident)? subst?
                    | "scope" "import"? uident_nq decl* "end"
                    | "import" uident
                    | "let" "ghost"? lident_nq attribute* fun_defn
                    | "let" "rec" fun_defn
                    | "val" "ghost"? lident_nq attribute* pgm_decl
                    | "exception" lident_nq attribute* type?
type_decl      ::=  lident_nq attribute* ("'" lident_nq attribute*)* type_defn
type_defn      ::=    ; abstract type
                    | "=" type   ; alias type
                    | "=" "|"? type_case ("|" type_case)*   ; algebraic type
                    | "=" vis_mut "{" record_field (";" record_field)* "}" invariant* type_witness  ; record type
                    | "<" "range" integer integer ">"   ; range type
                    | "<" "float" integer integer ">"   ; float type
type_case      ::=  uident attribute* type_param*
record_field   ::=  "ghost"? "mutable"? lident_nq attribute* ":" type
type_witness   ::=  "by" expr
vis_mut        ::=  ("abstract" | "private")? "mutable"?
pgm_decl       ::=  ":" type   ; global variable
                    | param (spec* param)+ ":" type spec*   ; abstract function
logic_decl     ::=  function_decl
                    | predicate_decl
constant_decl  ::=  lident_nq attribute* ":" type
                    | lident_nq attribute* ":" type "=" term
function_decl  ::=  lident_nq attribute* type_param* ":" type
                    | lident_nq attribute* type_param* ":" type "=" term
predicate_decl ::=  lident_nq attribute* type_param*
                    | lident_nq attribute* type_param* "=" formula
inductive_decl ::=  lident_nq attribute* type_param* "=" "|"? ind_case ("|" ind_case)*
ind_case       ::=  ident_nq attribute* ":" formula
imp_exp        ::=  ("import" | "export")?
subst          ::=  "with" ("," subst_elt)+
subst_elt      ::=  "type" lqualid "=" lqualid
                    | "function" lqualid "=" lqualid
                    | "predicate" lqualid "=" lqualid
                    | "scope" (uqualid | ".") "=" (uqualid | ".")
                    | "lemma" qualid
                    | "goal"  qualid
tqualid        ::=  uident | ident ("." ident)* "." uident
type_param     ::=  "'" lident
                    | lqualid
                    | "(" lident+ ":" type ")"
                    | "(" type ("," type)* ")"
                    | "()"

6.5.1. Record types

A record type declaration introduces a new type, with named and typed fields, as follows:

type t = { a: int; b: bool }

Such a type can be used both in logic and programs. A new record is built using curly braces and a value for each field, such as { a = 42; b = true }. If x is a value of type t, its fields are accessed using the dot notation, such as x.a. Each field happens to be a projection function, so that we can also write a x. A field can be declared mutable, as follows:

type t = { mutable a: int; b: bool }

A mutable field can be modified using notation x.a <- 42. The writes clause of a function contract can list mutable fields, e.g., writes { x.a }.

Type invariants

Invariants can be attached to record types, as follows:

type t = { mutable a: int; b: bool }
  invariant { b = true -> a >= 0 }

The semantics of type invariants is as follows. In the logic, a type invariant always holds. Consequently, it is no more possible to build a value using the curly braces (in the logic). To prevent the introduction of a logical inconsistency, Why3 generates a VC to show the existence of at least one record instance satisfying the invariant. It is named t'vc and has the form exists a:int, b:bool. b = true -> a >= 0. To ease the verification of this VC, one can provide an explicit witness using the keyword by, as follows:

type t = { mutable a: int; b: bool }
  invariant { b = true -> a >= 0 }
  by { a = 42; b = true }

It generates a simpler VC, where fields are instantiated accordingly.

For more complicated case, the witness can be more general than just a record, but the record can be used only as the resulting expression. Indeed the record does not exists yet, so the witness is in fact a tuple with the fields in the same order than in the definition. The record is just syntaxic sugar.

In programs, a type invariant is assumed to hold at function entry and must be restored at function exit. In the middle, the invariant can be temporarily broken. For instance, the following function can be verified:

let f (x: t) = x.a <- x.a - 1; x.a <- 0

After the first assignment, the invariant does not necessarily hold anymore. But it is restored before function exit with the second assignment.

If the record is passed to another function, then the invariant must be reestablished (so as to honor the contract of the callee). For instance, the following function cannot be verified:

let f1 (x: t) = x.a <- x.a - 1; f x; x.a <- 0

Indeed, passing x to function f requires checking the invariant first, which does not hold in this example. Similarly, the invariant must be reestablished if the record is passed to a logical function or predicate. For instance, the following function cannot be verified:

predicate p (x: t) = x.b

let f2 (x: t) = x.a <- x.a - 1; assert { p x }; x.a <- 0

Accessing the record fields, however, does not require restoring the invariant, both in logic and programs. For instance, the following function can be verified:

let f2 (x: t) = x.a <- x.a - 1; assert { x.a < old x.a }; x.a <- 0

Indeed, the invariant may not hold after the first assignment, but the assertion is only making use of field access, so there is no need to reestablish the invariant.

Private types

A record type can be declared private, as follows:

type t = private { mutable a: int; b: bool }

The meaning of such a declaration is that one cannot build a record instance, neither in the logic, nor in programs. For instance, the following function cannot be defined:

let create () = { a = 42; b = true }

One cannot modify mutable fields of private types either. One may wonder what is the purpose of private types, if one cannot build values in those types. The purpose is to build interfaces, to be later refined with actual implementations (see section Module cloning below). Indeed, if we cannot build record instances, we can still declare operations that return such records. For instance, we can declare the following two functions:

val create (n: int) : t
  ensures { result.a = n }

val incr (x: t) : unit
  writes  { x.a }
  ensures { x.a = old x.a + 1 }

Later, we can refine type t with a type that is not private anymore, and then implement operations create and incr.

Private types are often used in conjunction with ghost fields, that are used to model the contents of data structures. For instance, we can conveniently model a queue containing integers as follows:

type queue = private { mutable ghost s: seq int }

If needed, we could even add invariants (e.g., the sequence s is sorted in a priority queue).

When a private record type only has ghost fields, one can use abstract as a convenient shortcut:

type queue = abstract { mutable s: seq int }

This is equivalent to the previous declaration.

Recursive record types

Record types can be recursive, e.g,

type t = { a: int; next: option t }

Recursive record types cannot have invariants, cannot have mutable fields, and cannot be private.

6.5.2. Algebraic data types

Algebraic data types combine sum and product types. A simple example of a sum type is that of an option type:

type maybe = No | Yes int

Such a declaration introduces a new type maybe, with two constructors No and Yes. Constructor No has no argument and thus can be used as a constant value. Constructor Yes has an argument of type int and thus can be used to build values such as Yes 42. Algebraic data types can be polymorphic, e.g.,

type option 'a = None | Some 'a

(This type is already part of Why3 standard library, in module option.Option.)

A data type can be recursive. The archetypal example is the type of polymorphic lists:

type list 'a = Nil | Cons 'a (list 'a)

(This type is already part of Why3 standard library, in module list.List.)

Mutually recursive type definitions are supported.

type tree   = Node elt forest
with forest = Empty | Cons tree forest

When a field is common to all constructors, with the same type, it can be named:

type t =
  | MayBe (size: int) (option int)
  | Many  (size: int) (list int)

Such a named field introduces a projection function. Here, we get a function size of type t -> int.

Constructor arguments can be ghost, e.g.,

type answer =
  | Yes (ghost int)
  | No

Non-uniform data types are allowed, such as the following type for random access lists:

type ral 'a =
  | Empty
  | Zero    (ral ('a, 'a))
  | One  'a (ral ('a, 'a))

Why3 supports polymorphic recursion, both in logic and programs, so that we can define and verify operations on such types.


A tuple type is a particular case of algebraic data types, with a single constructor. A tuple type need not be declared by the user; it is generated on the fly. The syntax for a tuple type is (type1, type2, ...).

Note: Record types, introduced in the previous section, also constitute a particular case of algebraic data types with a single constructor. There are differences, though. Record types may have mutable fields, invariants, or private status, while algebraic data types cannot.

6.5.3. Range types

A declaration of the form type r = <range a b> defines a type that projects into the integer range [a,b]. Note that in order to make such a declaration the theory int.Int must be imported.

Why3 let you cast an integer literal in a range type (e.g., (42:r)) and will check at typing that the literal is in range. Defining such a range type \(r\) automatically introduces the following:

function r'int r : int
constant r'maxInt : int
constant r'minInt : int

The function r'int projects a term of type r to its integer value. The two constants represent the high bound and low bound of the range respectively.

Unless specified otherwise with the meta keep:literal on r, the transformation eliminate_literal introduces an axiom

axiom r'axiom : forall i:r. r'minInt <= r'int i <= r'maxInt

and replaces all casts of the form (42:r) with a constant and an axiom as in:

constant rliteral7 : r
axiom rliteral7_axiom : r'int rliteral7 = 42

This type is used in the standard library in the theories bv.BV8, bv.BV16, bv.BV32, bv.BV64.

6.5.4. Floating-point types

A declaration of the form type f = <float eb sb> defines a type of floating-point numbers as specified by the IEEE-754 standard [IEE08]. Here the literal eb represents the number of bits in the exponent and the literal sb the number of bits in the significand (including the hidden bit). Note that in order to make such a declaration the theory real.Real must be imported.

Why3 let you cast a real literal in a float type (e.g., (0.5:f)) and will check at typing that the literal is representable in the format. Note that Why3 do not implicitly round a real literal when casting to a float type, it refuses the cast if the literal is not representable.

Defining such a type f automatically introduces the following:

predicate f'isFinite f
function  f'real f : real
constant  f'eb : int
constant  f'sb : int

As specified by the IEEE standard, float formats includes infinite values and also a special NaN value (Not-a-Number) to represent results of undefined operations such as \(0/0\). The predicate f'isFinite indicates whether its argument is neither infinite nor NaN. The function f'real projects a finite term of type f to its real value, its result is not specified for non finite terms.

Unless specified otherwise with the meta keep:literal on f, the transformation eliminate_literal will introduce an axiom

axiom f'axiom :
  forall x:f. f'isFinite x -> -. max_real <=. f'real x <=. max_real

where max_real is the value of the biggest finite float in the specified format. The transformation also replaces all casts of the form (0.5:f) with a constant and an axiom as in:

constant fliteral42 : f
axiom fliteral42_axiom : f'real fliteral42 = 0.5 /\ f'isFinite fliteral42

This type is used in the standard library in the theories ieee_float.Float32 and ieee_float.Float64.

6.5.5. Function declarations


Definition of a program function, with prototype, contract, and body


Declaration of a program function, with prototype and contract only

let function

Definition of a pure (that is, side-effect free) program function which can also be used in specifications as a logical function symbol

let predicate

Definition of a pure Boolean program function which can also be used in specifications as a logical predicate symbol

val function

Declaration of a pure program function which can also be used in specifications as a logical function symbol

val predicate

Declaration of a pure Boolean program function which can also be used in specifications as a logical predicate symbol


Definition or declaration of a logical function symbol which can also be used as a program function in ghost code


Definition or declaration of a logical predicate symbol which can also be used as a Boolean program function in ghost code

let lemma

definition of a special pure program function which serves not as an actual code to execute but to prove the function’s contract as a lemma: “for all values of parameters, the precondition implies the postcondition”. This lemma is then added to the logical context and is made available to provers. If this “lemma-function” produces a result, the lemma is “for all values of parameters, the precondition implies the existence of a result that satisfies the postcondition”. Lemma-functions are mostly used to prove some property by induction directly in Why3, without resorting to an external higher-order proof assistant.

Program functions (defined with let or declared with val) can additionally be marked ghost, meaning that they can only be used in the ghost code and never translated into executable code ; or partial, meaning that their execution can produce observable effects unaccounted by their specification, and thus they cannot be used in the ghost code.

Recursive program functions must be defined using let rec.

let rec size_tree (t: tree) : int =
  variant { t }
  match t with
  | Node _ f -> 1 + size_forest f
with size_forest (f: forest) : int =
  variant { f }
  match f with
  | Empty    -> 0
  | Cons t f -> size_tree t + size_forest f

6.5.6. Module cloning

Why3 features a mechanism to make an instance of a module, by substituting some of its declarations with other symbols. It is called module cloning.

Let us consider the example of a module implementing exponentiation by squaring. We want to make it as general as possible, so that we can implement it and verify it only once and then reuse it in various different contexts, e.g., with integers, floating-point numbers, matrices, etc. We start our module with the introduction of a monoid:

module Exp
  use int.Int
  use int.ComputerDivision

  type t

  val constant one : t

  val function mul t t : t

  axiom one_neutral: forall x. mul one x = x = mul x one

  axiom mul_assoc: forall x y z. mul x (mul y z) = mul (mul x y) z

Then we define a simple exponentiation function, mostly for the purpose of specification:

  let rec function exp (x: t) (n: int) : t
    requires { n >= 0 }
    variant  { n }
  = if n = 0 then one else mul x (exp x (n - 1))

In anticipation of the forthcoming verification of exponentiation by squaring, we prove two lemmas. As they require induction, we use lemma functions:

  let rec lemma exp_add (x: t) (n m: int)
    requires { 0 <= n /\ 0 <= m }
    variant  { n }
    ensures  { exp x (n + m) = mul (exp x n) (exp x m) }
  = if n > 0 then exp_add x (n - 1) m

  let rec lemma exp_mul (x: t) (n m: int)
    requires { 0 <= n /\ 0 <= m }
    variant  { m }
    ensures  { exp x (n * m) = exp (exp x n) m }
  = if m > 0 then exp_mul x n (m - 1)

Finally, we implement and verify exponentiation by squaring, which completes our module.

  let fast_exp (x: t) (n: int) : t
    requires { n >= 0 }
    ensures  { result = exp x n }
  = let ref p = x in
    let ref q = n in
    let ref r = one in
    while q > 0 do
      invariant { 0 <= q }
      invariant { mul r (exp p q) = exp x n }
      variant   { q }
      if mod q 2 = 1 then r <- mul r p;
      p <- mul p p;
      q <- div q 2


Note that module Exp mixes declared symbols (type t, constant one, function mul) and defined symbols (function exp, program function fast_exp).

We can now make an instance of module Exp, by substituting some of its declared symbols (not necessarily all of them) with some other symbols. For instance, we get exponentiation by squaring on integers by substituting int for type t, integer 1 for constant one, and integer multiplication for function mul.

module ExponentiationBySquaring
  use int.Int
  clone Exp with type t = int, val one = one, val mul = (*)

In a substitution such as val one = one, the left-hand side refers to the namespace of the module being cloned, while the right-hand side refers to the current namespace (which here contains a constant one of type int).

When a module is cloned, any axiom is automatically turned into a lemma. Thus, the clone command above generates two VCs, one for lemma one_neutral and another for lemma mul_assoc. If an axiom should instead remain an axiom, it should be explicitly indicated in the substitution (using axiom mul_assoc for instance). Why3 cannot figure out by itself whether an axiom should be turned into a lemma, so it goes for the safe path (all axioms are to be proved) by default.

Lemmas that were proved in the module being cloned (such as exp_add and exp_mul here) are not reproved. They are part of the resulting namespace, the substitution being applied to their statements. Similarly, functions that were defined in the module being cloned (such as exp and fast_exp here) are not reproved and are part of the resulting module, the substitution being applied to their argument types, return type, and definition. For instance, we get a fresh function fast_exp of type int->int->int.

We can make plenty other instances of our module Exp.Module For instance, we get Russian multiplication for free by instantiating Exp with zero and addition instead.

module Multiplication
  use int.Int
  clone Exp with type t = int, val one = zero, val mul = (+)
  goal G: exp 2 3 = 6

It is also possible to substitute certain types of defined symbols : logical functions and predicates, (co)inductives, algebraic data types, immutable records without invariants, range and floating-point types can all be substituted by symbols with the exact same definition.

module A
  use int.Int

  predicate pos (n : int) =
    n >= 0

  function abs (n : int) =
    if pos n then n else -n

  type 'a list =
    | Nil
    | Cons 'a (list 'a)

  type r = { a : int; b : string; }

module B
  use int.Int

  (* logical functions and predicates must be syntactically equal. *)
  predicate pos (n : int) =
    n >= 0

  (* The substitution of pos is taken into account when checking
   * that the definitions are identical. *)
  function abs (n : int) =
    if pos n then n else -n

  (* For algebraic types, same definition means same constructors
   * in the same order. *)
  type 'a list =
    | Nil
    | Cons 'a (list 'a)

  (* Similarly records' fields must be in the exact same order. *)
  type r = { a : int; b : string; }

  clone A with
   predicate pos,
   function abs,
   type list,
   type r

6.5.7. Module interface

Module interface allows to only use an high level view, the interface, of a module during the proof and the actual implementation during the extraction. It is based on the cloning mechanism for checking the correspondence between the implementation and the interface.

For example the interface can model the datastructure with a simple finite set, and the inmplementation use an ordered list:

module Set

  use set.Fset

  type t = abstract { contents : fset int }

  meta coercion function contents

  val empty () : t
    ensures { result = empty }

  val add (x : int) (s : t) : t
    ensures { result = add x s }

  val mem (x : int) (s : t) : bool
    ensures { result <-> mem x s }


(* Implementation of integer sets using ordered lists *)

module ListSet : Set

  use int.Int
  use set.Fset
  use list.List
  use list.Mem
  use list.SortedInt

  type elt = int

  type t = { ghost contents : fset elt; list : list elt }
  invariant { forall x. Fset.mem x contents <-> mem x list }
  invariant { sorted list }
  by { contents = empty; list = Nil }

  meta coercion function contents

  let empty () =
    { contents = empty; list = Nil }

  let rec add_list x ys
    requires { sorted ys }
    variant { ys }
    ensures { forall y. mem y result <-> mem y ys \/ y = x }
    ensures { sorted result }
  = ...

  let add x s
    ensures { result = add x s }
    { contents = add x s.contents; list = add_list x s.list }

  let rec mem_list x ys
    requires { sorted ys }
    variant { ys }
    ensures { result <-> mem x ys }
  = ...

  let mem x s =
    mem_list x s.list


module Main

  use ListSet

  let main () =
    let s = empty () in
    let s = add 1 s in
    let s = add 2 s in
    let s = add 3 s in
    let b1 = mem 3 s in
    let b2 = mem 4 s in
    assert { b1 = true /\ b2 = false };
    (b1, b2)


During the proof of the function main, only the specifiction defined in Set` are present. So, for example, the generated goals are not polluted with the invariants of ListSet. However, during extraction the code of ListSet is used.

6.6. The Why3 Standard Library

The Why3 standard library provides general-purpose modules, to be used in logic and/or programs. It can be browsed on-line at https://www.why3.org/stdlib/. Each file contains one or several modules. To use or clone a module M from file file.mlw, use the syntax file.M, since file.mlw is available in Why3’s default load path. For instance, the module of integers and the module of arrays indexed by integers are imported as follows:

use int.Int
use array.Array

A sub-directory mach/ provides various modules to model machine arithmetic. For instance, the module of 63-bit integers and the module of arrays indexed by 63-bit integers are imported as follows:

use mach.int.Int63
use mach.array.Array63

In particular, the types and operations from these modules are mapped to native OCaml’s types and operations when Why3 code is extracted to OCaml (see Section 9.2).

6.6.1. Library int: mathematical integers

The int library contains several modules whose dependencies are displayed on Figure Fig. 6.1.

digraph G {
	graph [nodesep=0.4,
	node [margin=0.05,
	"int.Int" -> "algebra.OrderedUnitaryCommutativeRing";
	"int.Abs" -> "int.Int";
	"int.MinMax" -> "int.Int";
	"int.MinMax" -> "relations.MinMax";
	"int.Lex2" -> "int.Int";
	"int.Lex2" -> "relations.Lex";
	"int.EuclideanDivision" -> "int.Abs";
	"int.Div2" -> "int.Int";
	"int.ComputerDivision" -> "int.Abs";
	"int.Exponentiation" -> "int.Int";
	"int.Exponentiation" -> "algebra.Monoid";
	"int.Power" -> "int.Exponentiation";
	"int.NumOf" -> "int.Int";
	"int.Sum" -> "int.Int";
	"int.SumParam" -> "int.Int";
	"int.Fact" -> "int.Int";
	"int.Iter" -> "int.Int";
	"int.IntInf" -> "int.Int";
	"int.IntInf" -> "relations.TotalOrder";
	"int.SimpleInduction" -> "int.Int";
	"int.Induction" -> "int.Int";
	"int.HOInduction" -> "int.Int";
	"int.Fibonacci" -> "int.Int";
	"int.WFltof" -> "int.Int";
	"int.WFltof" -> "relations.WellFounded";

Fig. 6.1 Module dependencies in library int.

The main module is Int which provides basic operations like addition and multiplication, and comparisons.

The division of modulo operations are defined in other modules. They indeed come into two flavors: the module EuclideanDivision proposes a version where the result of the modulo is always non-negative, whereas the module ComputerDivision provides a version which matches the standard definition available in programming languages like C, Java or OCaml. Note that these modules do not provide any divsion or modulo operations to be used in programs. For those, you must use the module mach.int.Int instead, which provides these operations, including proper pre-conditions, and with the usual infix syntax x / y and x % y.

The detailed documentation of the library is available on-line at https://www.why3.org/stdlib/int.html.

6.6.2. Library array: array data structure

The array library contains several modules whose dependencies are displayed on Figure Fig. 6.2.

digraph G {
	graph [nodesep=0.4,
	node [margin=0.05,
	"array.Array" -> "int.Int";
	"array.Array" -> "map.Map";
	"array.Init" -> "array.Array";
	"array.IntArraySorted" -> "array.Array";
	"array.IntArraySorted" -> "map.MapSorted";
	"array.Sorted" -> "array.Array";
	"array.ArrayEq" -> "array.Array";
	"array.ArrayEq" -> "map.MapEq";
	"array.ArrayExchange" -> "array.Array";
	"array.ArrayExchange" -> "map.MapExchange";
	"array.ArrayPermut" -> "array.ArrayEq";
	"array.ArrayPermut" -> "array.ArrayExchange";
	"array.ArrayPermut" -> "map.MapPermut";
	"array.ArraySwap" -> "array.ArrayExchange";
	"array.ArraySum" -> "array.Array";
	"array.ArraySum" -> "int.Sum";
	"array.NumOf" -> "array.Array";
	"array.NumOf" -> "int.NumOf";
	"array.NumOfEq" -> "array.Array";
	"array.NumOfEq" -> "int.NumOf";
	"array.ToList" -> "array.Array";
	"array.ToList" -> "list.List";
	"array.ToList" -> "list.Append";
	"array.ToSeq" -> "array.Array";
	"array.ToSeq" -> "seq.Seq";
	"array.Inversions" -> "array.ArrayExchange";
	"array.Inversions" -> "int.Sum";
	"array.Inversions" -> "int.NumOf";

Fig. 6.2 Module dependencies in library array.

The main module is Array, providing the operations for accessing and updating an array element, with respective syntax a[i] and a[i] <- e, and proper pre-conditions for the indexes. The length of an array is denoted as a.length. A fresh array can be created using make l v where l is the desired length and v is the initial value of each cell.

The detailed documentation of the library is available on-line at https://www.why3.org/stdlib/array.html.