Higher-order automated theorem proving

The history of building automated theorem provers for higher-order logic is almost as old as the field of deduction systems itself. The first successful attempts to mechanize and implement higher-order logic were those of Huet [13] and Jensen and Pietrzykowski [17]. They combine the resolution principle for higher-order logic (first studied in [1]) with higher-order unification. The unification problem in typed λ-calculi is much more complex than that for first-order terms, since it has to take the theory of αβη-equality into account. As a consequence, the higher-order unification problem is undecidable and sets of solutions need not even always have most general elements that represent them. Thus the mentioned calculi for higher-order logic have take special measures to circumvent the problems posed by the theoretical complexity of higher-order unification. In this paper, we will exemplify the methods and proof- and model-theoretic tools needed for extending first-order automated theorem proving to higherorder logic. For the sake of simplicity take the tableau method as a basis (for a general introduction to first-order tableaux see part I.1) and discuss the higherorder tableau calculi HT and HTE first presented in [19]. The methods in this paper also apply to higher-order resolution calculi [1, 13, 6] or the higher-order matings method of Peter [3], which extend their first-order counterparts in much the same way. Since higher-order calculi cannot be complete for the standard semantics by Gödel’s incompleteness theorem [11], only the weaker notion of Henkin models [12] leads to a meaningful notion of completeness in higher-order logic. It turns out that the calculi in [1, 13, 3, 19] are not Henkin-complete, since they fail to capture the extensionality principles of higher-order logic. We will characterize the deductive power of our calculus HT (which is roughly equivalent to these calculi) by the semantics of functional Σ-models. To arrive at a calculus that is complete with respect to Henkin models, we build on ideas from [6] and augment HT with tableau construction rules that use the extensionality principles in a goal-oriented way..
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