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Section: Scientific Foundations

Verification of scientific algorithms

To produce certified algorithms, we use the following approach: instead of attempting to prove properties of an existing program written in a conventional programming language such as C or Java, we produce new programs in the calculus of constructions whose correctness is an immediate consequence of their construction. This has several advantages. First, we work at a high level of abstraction, independently of the target implementation language. Second, we concentrate on specific characteristics of the algorithm, and abstract away from the rest (for instance, we abstract away from memory management or data implementation strategies). Thus, we are able to address more high-level mathematics and to express more general properties without being overwhelmed by implementation details.

However, this approach also presents a few drawbacks. For instance, the calculus of constructions usually imposes that recursive programs should explicitly terminate for all inputs. For some algorithms, we need to use advanced concepts (for instance, well-founded relations) to make the property of termination explicit, and proofs of correctness become especially difficult in this setting.


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