# Experiencing Maths via Coq

April 7, 2017

Two years ago, I started working on Velleman’s How to prove book. While studying it, I realized that it was easy to prove something wrong and completely miss it.

I have been recently studying Coq and proving basic properties of Peano numbers using it. After using it for a month, I feel that for self-studying Maths, Coq is much better than the traditional way of writing informal proofs. Also, in some cases, it has helped me to refine my proof. An example case:

``````Lemma S_injective : forall n m,
n = m -> S n = S m.
Proof.
intros n m.
induction n as [| n'].
- intros H1.
rewrite <- H1.
reflexivity.
- intros H1.
rewrite -> H1.
reflexivity.
Qed.``````

My first attempt in the above problem was to use induction. But after proving it, I noted that I’m not using induction hypothesis at all. So in my second attempt, I proved it using case analysis without induction:

``````Lemma S_injective : forall n m,
n = m -> S n = S m.
Proof.
intros n m.
intros H.
destruct n as [| n'].
- simpl. rewrite -> H.
reflexivity.
- rewrite -> H.
reflexivity.
Qed.``````

I think this kind of rapid iteration is very essential in learning maths. The ability to quickly try out another way of solving it and having the confirmation that it works is very valuable.