Decoupling formal theorem proving effort

Terence Tao has been experimenting with formal theorem proving using Lean and writing about his experience.

Here’s something Tao said on Mathstodon that I thought was interesting.

It is remarkable how much “decoupling” is achieved by the Lean+Blueprint combo. Contributors can work locally on proving a lemma, without necessarily fully understanding the global proof structure. Mathematicians who do understand the global proof can work on the blueprint, without necessarily understanding the mechanics of Lean. Lean experts can work on technical aspects of the implementation, such as optimizing the selection of classes and definitions, without needing expert domain knowledge. A theorem can be formalized, before, after, or concurrently with the lemmas it relies on, or the applications it has. Two participants who want to discuss some finer point of the argument can localize to a very specific and highly formalized step and have a constructive discussion even if they come from quite different backgrounds. It allows for (certain types of) high-level mathematical activity to be done at a far more atomized level than is usually possible.

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