15. Using First-Order Theorem Provers

Given a set of hypotheses and a conclusion, a first-order theorem prover does its best to find a proof of the conclusion from the hypotheses, using first-order logic with equality. If it finds one, it reports success. If the conclusion does not follow from the hypotheses, in some situations, the prover can detect that fact and report it. But that is the exception rather than the rule. In many situations, the prover will simply burn CPU cycles and gobble up memory, and, if we are lucky, eventually time out gracefully.

Let’s not blame the provers. They are fighting a brave battle against incompleteness and undecidability, and the fact that there are no a priori guarantees that a search will be successful makes the quest all the more exciting. In this chapter, we show you how you can call a theorem prover from within Lean.

15.1. Example: Aunt Agatha

The following story is taken from a talk by Peter Baumgartner.

Someone who lives in Dreadbury Mansion killed Aunt Agatha. Agatha, the butler, and Charles live in Dreadbury Mansion, and are the only people who live therein. A killer always hates his victim, and is never richer than his victim. Charles hates no one that Aunt Agatha hates. Agatha hates everyone except the butler. The butler hates everyone not richer than Aunt Agatha. The butler hates everyone Aunt Agatha hates. No one hates everyone. Agatha is not the butler.

Who killed Aunt Agatha?

We can represent the hypotheses as follows.

def aunt_agatha_hypotheses : List FOForm := [
  fo!{ x. lives_at_dreadbury(%x)  killed(%x, agatha)},
  fo!{ x. lives_at_dreadbury(%x)  (%x = agatha  %x = butler  %x = charles)},
  fo!{ x.  y. killed(%x, %y)  hates(%x, %y)},
  fo!{ x.  y. killed(%x, %y)  ¬ richer(%x, %y)},
  fo!{ x. hates(charles, %x)  ¬ hates(agatha, %x)},
  fo!{ x. ¬ hates(agatha, %x)  %x = butler},
  fo!{ x. ¬ richer(%x, agatha)  hates(butler, %x)},
  fo!{ x. hates(agatha, %x)  hates(butler, %x)},
  fo!{ x.  y. ¬ hates(%x, %y)},
  fo!{¬ agatha = butler}

Our first guess, of course, is that the butler did it. Here we call Vampire to test that assumption.

def aunt_agatha_guess :=
  fo!{killed(butler, agatha)}

-- Termination reason: Satisfiable
#eval (do
  discard <| callVampireTptp aunt_agatha_hypotheses aunt_agatha_guess (verbose := true)
  : IO Unit)

Like resolution provers for propositional logic, first-order provers generally work by negating the conclusion, adding it to the hypotheses, and trying to prove a contradiction. In this case, Vampire runs for a while, and ultimately reports that the entailment is not valid: the hypotheses together with the negation of the guess are satisfiable. In fact, if we negate the guess, Vampire proves instantaneously that the butler is not the killer. We have no better luck with Charles, leaving us to conclude that this must be a case of suicide. Vampire confirms this:

def aunt_agatha_conclusion :=
  fo!{killed(agatha, agatha)}

-- Termination reason: Refutation
#eval (do
  discard <| callVampireTptp aunt_agatha_hypotheses aunt_agatha_conclusion (verbose := true)
  : IO Unit)

It is also worthwhile finding a proof on your own.

15.2. Example: The Eighth Asylum

In an article called “The Asylum of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether,” published in the American Mathematical Monthly and later in a collection The Lady or the Tiger? and other Logic Puzzles, Raymond Smullyan tells of an investigation of 11 insane asylums by Inspector Craig of Scotland Yard. In each of these asylums, every inhabitant is either a doctor or a patient, and every inhabitant is either sane or insane. The sane inhabitants are totally sane and the insane inhabitants are totally insane, in the following sense: for any proposition \(P\), a sane inhabitant believes \(P\) if and only if \(P\) is true, and an insane inhabitant believes \(P\) if and only if \(P\) is false.

The eighth asylum is described as follows:

The next asylum proved to be quite a puzzler, but Craig finally managed to get to the bottom of things. He found out that the following conditions prevailed:

  1. Given any two inhabitants A and B, either A trusts B or he doesn’t.

  2. Some of the inhabitants are teachers of other inhabitants. Each inhabitant has at least one teacher.

  3. No inhabitant A is willing to be a teacher of an inhabitant B unless A believes that B trusts himself.

  4. For any inhabitant A there is an inhabitant B who trusts all and only those inhabitants who have at least one teacher who is trusted by A. (In other words, for any inhabitant X, B trusts X if A trusts some teacher of X, and B doesn’t trust X unless A trusts some teacher of X.)

  5. There is one inhabitant who trusts all the patients but does not trust any of the doctors.

Inspector Craig thought this over for a long time and was finally able to prove that either one of the patients was sane or one of doctors was insane. Can you find the proof?

Given the instructions, we can represent the fact that \(x\) is insane with the formula \(\lnot \fn{Sane}(x)\), and the statement that \(x\) is a patient with the formula \(\lnot \fn{Doctor}(x)\). Moreover, any statement of the form “\(x\) believes \(P\)” is equivalent to \(\fn{Sane(x)} \liff P\), because either \(x\) is sane and \(P\) holds or \(x\) is insane and \(P\) doesn’t hold. We can therefore formalize the hypotheses as follows:

def asylum_eight_hypotheses : List FOForm := [
  fo!{ x.  y. Teaches(%y, %x)},
  fo!{ x.  y. Teaches(%x, %y)  (Sane(%x)  Trusts(%y, %y))},
  fo!{ x.  y.  z. Trusts(%y, %z)   w. Teaches(%w, %z)  Trusts(%x, %w)},
  fo!{ x.  y. ¬ Doctor(%y)  Trusts(%x, %y)}

It then takes Vampire only a fraction of a second to draw the relevant conclusion.

def asylum_eight_conclusion :=
  fo!{ x. Doctor(%x)  ¬ Sane(%x)}

#eval (do
  discard <| callVampireTptp asylum_eight_hypotheses asylum_eight_conclusion
    (verbose := true)
  : IO Unit)

Once again, it is worthwhile to find a proof by hand. You can use Vampire to check some of your conclusions along the way.

15.3. Exercise: The Last Asylum

The last puzzle in the chapter reads as follows:

The last asylum Craig visited he found to the be the most bizarre of all. This asylum was run by two doctors named Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether. There were other doctors on the staff as well. Now, an inhabitant was called peculiar if he believed that he was a patient. An inhabitant was called special if all patients believed he was peculiar and no doctor believed he was peculiar. Inspector Craig found out that at least one inhabitant was sane and that the following condition held:

Condition C: Each inhabitant had a best friend in the asylum. Moreover, given any two inhabitants, A and B, if A believed that B was special, then A’s best friend believed that B was a patient.

Shortly after this discovery, Inspector Craig had private interviews with Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether. Here is the interview with Doctor Tarr:

Craig: Tell me, Doctor Tarr, are all the doctors in this asylum sane?

Tarr: Of course they are!

Craig: What about the patients? Are they all insane?

Tarr: At least one of them is.

The second answer struck Craig as a surprisingly modest claim! Of course, if all the patients are insane, the it certainly is true that at least one is. But why was Doctor Tarr being so cautious? Craig then had his interview with Professor Fether, which went as follows:

Craig: Doctor Tarr said that at least one patient here is insane. Surely that is true, isn’t it?

Professor Fether: Of course it is true! All the patients in this asylum are insane! What kind of asylum do you think we are running?

Craig: What about the doctors? Are they all sane?

Professor Fether: At least one of them is.

Craig: What about Doctor Tarr? Is he sane?

Professor Fether: Of course he is! How dare you ask me such a question?

At this point, Craig realized the full horror of the situation! What was it?

In the solutions, Smullyan provides a proof that, under these hypotheses, all the patients are sane and all the doctors are insane. Formalizing the hypotheses, we were able to use Vampire to show something stronger, namely, that the hypotheses themselves are inconsistent. In other words, no such asylum can possibly exist!

We encourage you to formalize the problem and see if you can get Vampire to find a contradiction. We are grateful to Alexander Bentkamp and Seulkee Baek for working out pen-and-paper proofs. See if you can find one as well, perhaps using Smullyan’s solution as a starting point.