\[\begin{split}\newcommand{\alors}{\textsf{then}} \newcommand{\alter}{\textsf{alter}} \newcommand{\as}{\kw{as}} \newcommand{\Assum}[3]{\kw{Assum}(#1)(#2:#3)} \newcommand{\bool}{\textsf{bool}} \newcommand{\case}{\kw{case}} \newcommand{\conc}{\textsf{conc}} \newcommand{\cons}{\textsf{cons}} \newcommand{\consf}{\textsf{consf}} \newcommand{\conshl}{\textsf{cons\_hl}} \newcommand{\Def}[4]{\kw{Def}(#1)(#2:=#3:#4)} \newcommand{\emptyf}{\textsf{emptyf}} \newcommand{\End}{\kw{End}} \newcommand{\kwend}{\kw{end}} \newcommand{\EqSt}{\textsf{EqSt}} \newcommand{\even}{\textsf{even}} \newcommand{\evenO}{\textsf{even}_\textsf{O}} \newcommand{\evenS}{\textsf{even}_\textsf{S}} \newcommand{\false}{\textsf{false}} \newcommand{\filter}{\textsf{filter}} \newcommand{\Fix}{\kw{Fix}} \newcommand{\fix}{\kw{fix}} \newcommand{\for}{\textsf{for}} \newcommand{\forest}{\textsf{forest}} \newcommand{\from}{\textsf{from}} \newcommand{\Functor}{\kw{Functor}} \newcommand{\haslength}{\textsf{has\_length}} \newcommand{\hd}{\textsf{hd}} \newcommand{\ident}{\textsf{ident}} \newcommand{\In}{\kw{in}} \newcommand{\Ind}[4]{\kw{Ind}[#2](#3:=#4)} \newcommand{\ind}[3]{\kw{Ind}~[#1]\left(#2\mathrm{~:=~}#3\right)} \newcommand{\Indp}[5]{\kw{Ind}_{#5}(#1)[#2](#3:=#4)} \newcommand{\Indpstr}[6]{\kw{Ind}_{#5}(#1)[#2](#3:=#4)/{#6}} \newcommand{\injective}{\kw{injective}} \newcommand{\kw}[1]{\textsf{#1}} \newcommand{\lb}{\lambda} \newcommand{\length}{\textsf{length}} \newcommand{\letin}[3]{\kw{let}~#1:=#2~\kw{in}~#3} \newcommand{\List}{\textsf{list}} \newcommand{\lra}{\longrightarrow} \newcommand{\Match}{\kw{match}} \newcommand{\Mod}[3]{{\kw{Mod}}({#1}:{#2}\,\zeroone{:={#3}})} \newcommand{\ModA}[2]{{\kw{ModA}}({#1}=={#2})} \newcommand{\ModS}[2]{{\kw{Mod}}({#1}:{#2})} \newcommand{\ModType}[2]{{\kw{ModType}}({#1}:={#2})} \newcommand{\mto}{.\;} \newcommand{\Nat}{\mathbb{N}} \newcommand{\nat}{\textsf{nat}} \newcommand{\Nil}{\textsf{nil}} \newcommand{\nilhl}{\textsf{nil\_hl}} \newcommand{\nO}{\textsf{O}} \newcommand{\node}{\textsf{node}} \newcommand{\nS}{\textsf{S}} \newcommand{\odd}{\textsf{odd}} \newcommand{\oddS}{\textsf{odd}_\textsf{S}} \newcommand{\ovl}[1]{\overline{#1}} \newcommand{\Pair}{\textsf{pair}} \newcommand{\Prod}{\textsf{prod}} \newcommand{\Prop}{\textsf{Prop}} \newcommand{\return}{\kw{return}} \newcommand{\Set}{\textsf{Set}} \newcommand{\si}{\textsf{if}} \newcommand{\sinon}{\textsf{else}} \newcommand{\Sort}{\cal S} \newcommand{\Str}{\textsf{Stream}} \newcommand{\Struct}{\kw{Struct}} \newcommand{\subst}[3]{#1\{#2/#3\}} \newcommand{\tl}{\textsf{tl}} \newcommand{\tree}{\textsf{tree}} \newcommand{\true}{\textsf{true}} \newcommand{\Type}{\textsf{Type}} \newcommand{\unfold}{\textsf{unfold}} \newcommand{\WEV}[3]{\mbox{$#1[] \vdash #2 \lra #3$}} \newcommand{\WEVT}[3]{\mbox{$#1[] \vdash #2 \lra$}\\ \mbox{$ #3$}} \newcommand{\WF}[2]{{\cal W\!F}(#1)[#2]} \newcommand{\WFE}[1]{\WF{E}{#1}} \newcommand{\WFT}[2]{#1[] \vdash {\cal W\!F}(#2)} \newcommand{\WFTWOLINES}[2]{{\cal W\!F}\begin{array}{l}(#1)\\\mbox{}[{#2}]\end{array}} \newcommand{\with}{\kw{with}} \newcommand{\WS}[3]{#1[] \vdash #2 <: #3} \newcommand{\WSE}[2]{\WS{E}{#1}{#2}} \newcommand{\WT}[4]{#1[#2] \vdash #3 : #4} \newcommand{\WTE}[3]{\WT{E}{#1}{#2}{#3}} \newcommand{\WTEG}[2]{\WTE{\Gamma}{#1}{#2}} \newcommand{\WTM}[3]{\WT{#1}{}{#2}{#3}} \newcommand{\zeroone}[1]{[{#1}]} \newcommand{\zeros}{\textsf{zeros}} \end{split}\]

The Gallina specification language

This chapter describes Gallina, the specification language of Coq. It allows developing mathematical theories and to prove specifications of programs. The theories are built from axioms, hypotheses, parameters, lemmas, theorems and definitions of constants, functions, predicates and sets. The syntax of logical objects involved in theories is described in Section Terms. The language of commands, called The Vernacular is described in Section The Vernacular.

In Coq, logical objects are typed to ensure their logical correctness. The rules implemented by the typing algorithm are described in Chapter Calculus of Inductive Constructions.

About the grammars in the manual

Grammars are presented in Backus-Naur form (BNF). Terminal symbols are set in black typewriter font. In addition, there are special notations for regular expressions.

An expression enclosed in square brackets […] means at most one occurrence of this expression (this corresponds to an optional component).

The notation “entry sep sep entry” stands for a non empty sequence of expressions parsed by entry and separated by the literal “sep[1].

Similarly, the notation “entry entry” stands for a non empty sequence of expressions parsed by the “entry” entry, without any separator between.

At the end, the notation “[entry sep sep entry]” stands for a possibly empty sequence of expressions parsed by the “entry” entry, separated by the literal “sep”.

Lexical conventions

Space, newline and horizontal tabulation are considered as blanks. Blanks are ignored but they separate tokens.
Comments in Coq are enclosed between (* and *), and can be nested. They can contain any character. However, string literals must be correctly closed. Comments are treated as blanks.
Identifiers and access identifiers

Identifiers, written ident, are sequences of letters, digits, _ and ', that do not start with a digit or '. That is, they are recognized by the following lexical class:

first_letter      ::=  a..z ∣ A..Z ∣ _ ∣ unicode-letter
subsequent_letter ::=  a..z ∣ A..Z ∣ 0..9 ∣ _ ∣ ' ∣ unicode-letter ∣ unicode-id-part
ident             ::=  first_letter[subsequent_lettersubsequent_letter]
access_ident      ::=  .ident

All characters are meaningful. In particular, identifiers are case-sensitive. The entry unicode-letter non-exhaustively includes Latin, Greek, Gothic, Cyrillic, Arabic, Hebrew, Georgian, Hangul, Hiragana and Katakana characters, CJK ideographs, mathematical letter-like symbols, hyphens, non-breaking space, … The entry unicode-id-part non-exhaustively includes symbols for prime letters and subscripts.

Access identifiers, written access_ident, are identifiers prefixed by . (dot) without blank. They are used in the syntax of qualified identifiers.

Natural numbers and integers

Numerals are sequences of digits. Integers are numerals optionally preceded by a minus sign.

digit   ::=  0..9
num     ::=  digitdigit
integer ::=  [-]num
Strings are delimited by " (double quote), and enclose a sequence of any characters different from " or the sequence "" to denote the double quote character. In grammars, the entry for quoted strings is string.

The following identifiers are reserved keywords, and cannot be employed otherwise:

_ as at cofix else end exists exists2 fix for
forall fun if IF in let match mod Prop return
Set then Type using where with
Special tokens

The following sequences of characters are special tokens:

! % & && ( () ) * + ++ , - -> . .( ..
/ /\ : :: :< := :> ; < <- <-> <: <= <> =
=> =_D > >-> >= ? ?= @ [ \/ ] ^ { | |-
|| } ~ #[

Lexical ambiguities are resolved according to the “longest match” rule: when a sequence of non alphanumerical characters can be decomposed into several different ways, then the first token is the longest possible one (among all tokens defined at this moment), and so on.


Syntax of terms

The following grammars describe the basic syntax of the terms of the Calculus of Inductive Constructions (also called Cic). The formal presentation of Cic is given in Chapter Calculus of Inductive Constructions. Extensions of this syntax are given in Chapter Extensions of Gallina. How to customize the syntax is described in Chapter Syntax extensions and interpretation scopes.

term         ::=  forall binders , term
                  | fun binders => term
                  | fix fix_bodies
                  | cofix cofix_bodies
                  | let ident [binders] [: term] := term in term
                  | let fix fix_body in term
                  | let cofix cofix_body in term
                  | let ( [name , … , name] ) [dep_ret_type] := term in term
                  | let ' pattern [in term] := term [return_type] in term
                  | if term [dep_ret_type] then term else term
                  | term : term
                  | term <: term
                  | term :>
                  | term -> term
                  | term argarg
                  | @ qualid [termterm]
                  | term % ident
                  | match match_item , … , match_item [return_type] with
                    [[|] equation | … | equation] end
                  | qualid
                  | sort
                  | num
                  | _
                  | ( term )
arg          ::=  term
                  | ( ident := term )
binders      ::=  binderbinder
binder       ::=  name
                  | ( namename : term )
                  | ( name [: term] := term )
                  | ' pattern
name         ::=  ident | _
qualid       ::=  ident | qualid access_ident
sort         ::=  Prop | Set | Type
fix_bodies   ::=  fix_body
                  | fix_body with fix_body with … with fix_body for ident
cofix_bodies ::=  cofix_body
                  | cofix_body with cofix_body with … with cofix_body for ident
fix_body     ::=  ident binders [annotation] [: term] := term
cofix_body   ::=  ident [binders] [: term] := term
annotation   ::=  { struct ident }
match_item   ::=  term [as name] [in qualid [patternpattern]]
dep_ret_type ::=  [as name] return_type
return_type  ::=  return term
equation     ::=  mult_pattern | … | mult_pattern => term
mult_pattern ::=  pattern , … , pattern
pattern      ::=  qualid patternpattern
                  | @ qualid patternpattern
                  | pattern as ident
                  | pattern % ident
                  | qualid
                  | _
                  | num
                  | ( or_pattern , … , or_pattern )
or_pattern   ::=  pattern | … | pattern


Coq terms are typed. Coq types are recognized by the same syntactic class as term. We denote by type the semantic subclass of types inside the syntactic class term.

Qualified identifiers and simple identifiers

Qualified identifiers (qualid) denote global constants (definitions, lemmas, theorems, remarks or facts), global variables (parameters or axioms), inductive types or constructors of inductive types. Simple identifiers (or shortly ident) are a syntactic subset of qualified identifiers. Identifiers may also denote local variables, while qualified identifiers do not.


Numerals have no definite semantics in the calculus. They are mere notations that can be bound to objects through the notation mechanism (see Chapter Syntax extensions and interpretation scopes for details). Initially, numerals are bound to Peano’s representation of natural numbers (see Datatypes).


Negative integers are not at the same level as num, for this would make precedence unnatural.


There are three sorts Set, Prop and Type.

  • Prop is the universe of logical propositions. The logical propositions themselves are typing the proofs. We denote propositions by form. This constitutes a semantic subclass of the syntactic class term.
  • Set is is the universe of program types or specifications. The specifications themselves are typing the programs. We denote specifications by specif. This constitutes a semantic subclass of the syntactic class term.
  • Type is the type of Prop and Set

More on sorts can be found in Section Sorts.


Various constructions such as fun, forall, fix and cofix bind variables. A binding is represented by an identifier. If the binding variable is not used in the expression, the identifier can be replaced by the symbol _. When the type of a bound variable cannot be synthesized by the system, it can be specified with the notation (ident : type). There is also a notation for a sequence of binding variables sharing the same type: (ident+ : type). A binder can also be any pattern prefixed by a quote, e.g. '(x,y).

Some constructions allow the binding of a variable to value. This is called a “let-binder”. The entry binder of the grammar accepts either an assumption binder as defined above or a let-binder. The notation in the latter case is (ident := term). In a let-binder, only one variable can be introduced at the same time. It is also possible to give the type of the variable as follows: (ident : type := term).

Lists of binder are allowed. In the case of fun and forall, it is intended that at least one binder of the list is an assumption otherwise fun and forall gets identical. Moreover, parentheses can be omitted in the case of a single sequence of bindings sharing the same type (e.g.: fun (x y z : A) => t can be shortened in fun x y z : A => t).


The expression fun ident : type => term defines the abstraction of the variable ident, of type type, over the term term. It denotes a function of the variable ident that evaluates to the expression term (e.g. fun x : A => x denotes the identity function on type A). The keyword fun can be followed by several binders as given in Section Binders. Functions over several variables are equivalent to an iteration of one-variable functions. For instance the expression “fun ident\(_{1}\) … ident\(_{n}\)type => term” denotes the same function as “ fun ident\(_{1}\) : type => … fun ident\(_{n}\) : type => term”. If a let-binder occurs in the list of binders, it is expanded to a let-in definition (see Section Let-in definitions).


The expression forall ident : typeterm denotes the product of the variable ident of type type, over the term term. As for abstractions, forall is followed by a binder list, and products over several variables are equivalent to an iteration of one-variable products. Note that term is intended to be a type.

If the variable ident occurs in term, the product is called dependent product. The intention behind a dependent product forall x : A, B is twofold. It denotes either the universal quantification of the variable x of type A in the proposition B or the functional dependent product from A to B (a construction usually written \(\Pi_{x:A}.B\) in set theory).

Non dependent product types have a special notation: A -> B stands for forall _ : A, B. The non dependent product is used both to denote the propositional implication and function types.


The expression term\(_0\) term\(_1\) denotes the application of term\(_0\) to term\(_1\).

The expression term\(_0\) term\(_1\) ... term\(_n\) denotes the application of the term term\(_0\) to the arguments term\(_1\) ... then term\(_n\). It is equivalent to ( … ( term\(_0\) term\(_1\) ) … ) term\(_n\) : associativity is to the left.

The notation (ident := term) for arguments is used for making explicit the value of implicit arguments (see Section Explicit applications).

Type cast

The expression term : type is a type cast expression. It enforces the type of term to be type.

term <: type locally sets up the virtual machine for checking that term has type type.

term <<: type uses native compilation for checking that term has type type.

Inferable subterms

Expressions often contain redundant pieces of information. Subterms that can be automatically inferred by Coq can be replaced by the symbol _ and Coq will guess the missing piece of information.

Let-in definitions

let ident := term in term denotes the local binding of term to the variable ident in term’. There is a syntactic sugar for let-in definition of functions: let ident binder+ := term in term stands for let ident := fun binder+ => term in term.

Definition by case analysis

Objects of inductive types can be destructurated by a case-analysis construction called pattern matching expression. A pattern matching expression is used to analyze the structure of an inductive object and to apply specific treatments accordingly.

This paragraph describes the basic form of pattern matching. See Section Multiple and nested pattern matching and Chapter Extended pattern matching for the description of the general form. The basic form of pattern matching is characterized by a single match_item expression, a mult_pattern restricted to a single pattern and pattern restricted to the form qualid ident*.

The expression match "term\(_0\) return_type with pattern\(_1\) => term\(_1\) \(|\)\(|\) pattern\(_n\) => term\(_n\) end" denotes a pattern matching over the term term\(_0\) (expected to be of an inductive type \(I\)). The terms term\(_1\)term\(_n\) are the branches of the pattern matching expression. Each of pattern\(_i\) has a form qualid ident where qualid must denote a constructor. There should be exactly one branch for every constructor of \(I\).

The return_type expresses the type returned by the whole match expression. There are several cases. In the non dependent case, all branches have the same type, and the return_type is the common type of branches. In this case, return_type can usually be omitted as it can be inferred from the type of the branches [2].

In the dependent case, there are three subcases. In the first subcase, the type in each branch may depend on the exact value being matched in the branch. In this case, the whole pattern matching itself depends on the term being matched. This dependency of the term being matched in the return type is expressed with an “as ident” clause where ident is dependent in the return type. For instance, in the following example:

Inductive bool : Type := true : bool | false : bool.
bool is defined bool_rect is defined bool_ind is defined bool_rec is defined
Inductive eq (A:Type) (x:A) : A -> Prop := eq_refl : eq A x x.
eq is defined eq_rect is defined eq_ind is defined eq_rec is defined
Inductive or (A:Prop) (B:Prop) : Prop :=   | or_introl : A -> or A B   | or_intror : B -> or A B.
or is defined or_ind is defined
Definition bool_case (b:bool) : or (eq bool b true) (eq bool b false) :=   match b as x return or (eq bool x true) (eq bool x false) with   | true => or_introl (eq bool true true) (eq bool true false) (eq_refl bool true)   | false => or_intror (eq bool false true) (eq bool false false) (eq_refl bool false)   end.
bool_case is defined

the branches have respective types "or (eq bool true true) (eq bool true false)" and "or (eq bool false true) (eq bool false false)" while the whole pattern matching expression has type "or (eq bool b true) (eq bool b false)", the identifier b being used to represent the dependency.


When the term being matched is a variable, the as clause can be omitted and the term being matched can serve itself as binding name in the return type. For instance, the following alternative definition is accepted and has the same meaning as the previous one.

Definition bool_case (b:bool) : or (eq bool b true) (eq bool b false) := match b return or (eq bool b true) (eq bool b false) with | true => or_introl (eq bool true true) (eq bool true false) (eq_refl bool true) | false => or_intror (eq bool false true) (eq bool false false) (eq_refl bool false) end.
Toplevel input, characters 0-301: > Definition bool_case (b:bool) : or (eq bool b true) (eq bool b false) := match b return or (eq bool b true) (eq bool b false) with | true => or_introl (eq bool true true) (eq bool true false) (eq_refl bool true) | false => or_intror (eq bool false true) (eq bool false false) (eq_refl bool false) end. > ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Error: bool_case already exists.

The second subcase is only relevant for annotated inductive types such as the equality predicate (see Section Equality), the order predicate on natural numbers or the type of lists of a given length (see Section Matching objects of dependent types). In this configuration, the type of each branch can depend on the type dependencies specific to the branch and the whole pattern matching expression has a type determined by the specific dependencies in the type of the term being matched. This dependency of the return type in the annotations of the inductive type is expressed using a “in \(I\) _ _ pattern\(_1\)pattern\(_n\)” clause, where

  • \(I\) is the inductive type of the term being matched;
  • the _ are matching the parameters of the inductive type: the return type is not dependent on them.
  • the pattern\(_i\) are matching the annotations of the inductive type: the return type is dependent on them
  • in the basic case which we describe below, each pattern\(_i\) is a name ident\(_i\); see Patterns in in for the general case

For instance, in the following example:

Definition eq_sym (A:Type) (x y:A) (H:eq A x y) : eq A y x := match H in eq _ _ z return eq A z x with | eq_refl _ => eq_refl A x end.
Toplevel input, characters 105-114: > Definition eq_sym (A:Type) (x y:A) (H:eq A x y) : eq A y x := match H in eq _ _ z return eq A z x with | eq_refl _ => eq_refl A x end. > ^^^^^^^^^ Error: The constructor eq_refl (in type eq) expects 2 arguments.

the type of the branch is eq A x x because the third argument of eq is x in the type of the pattern eq_refl. On the contrary, the type of the whole pattern matching expression has type eq A y x because the third argument of eq is y in the type of H. This dependency of the case analysis in the third argument of eq is expressed by the identifier z in the return type.

Finally, the third subcase is a combination of the first and second subcase. In particular, it only applies to pattern matching on terms in a type with annotations. For this third subcase, both the clauses as and in are available.

There are specific notations for case analysis on types with one or two constructors: if then else and let (…,…) := in (see Sections Pattern-matching on boolean values: the if expression and Irrefutable patterns: the destructuring let variants).

Recursive functions

The expression “fix ident\(_1\) binder\(_1\) : type\(_1\) := term\(_1\) with with ident\(_n\) binder\(_n\) : type\(_n\) := term\(_n\) for ident\(_i\)” denotes the \(i\)-th component of a block of functions defined by mutual structural recursion. It is the local counterpart of the Fixpoint command. When \(n=1\), the “for ident\(_i\)” clause is omitted.

The expression “cofix ident\(_1\) binder\(_1\) : type\(_1\) with with ident\(_n\) binder\(_n\) : type\(_n\) for ident\(_i\)” denotes the \(i\)-th component of a block of terms defined by a mutual guarded co-recursion. It is the local counterpart of the CoFixpoint command. When \(n=1\), the “for ident\(_i\)” clause is omitted.

The association of a single fixpoint and a local definition have a special syntax: let fix ident binders := term in stands for let ident := fix ident binders := term in. The same applies for co-fixpoints.

The Vernacular

decorated-sentence ::=  [decoration] sentence
sentence           ::=  assumption
                        | definition
                        | inductive
                        | fixpoint
                        | assertion proof
assumption         ::=  assumption_keyword assums.
assumption_keyword ::=  Axiom | Conjecture
                        | Parameter | Parameters
                        | Variable | Variables
                        | Hypothesis | Hypotheses
assums             ::=  identident : term
                        | ( identident : term ) … ( identident : term )
definition         ::=  [Local] Definition ident [binders] [: term] := term .
                        | Let ident [binders] [: term] := term .
inductive          ::=  Inductive ind_body with … with ind_body .
                        | CoInductive ind_body with … with ind_body .
ind_body           ::=  ident [binders] : term :=
                        [[|] ident [binders] [:term] | … | ident [binders] [:term]]
fixpoint           ::=  Fixpoint fix_body with … with fix_body .
                        | CoFixpoint cofix_body with … with cofix_body .
assertion          ::=  assertion_keyword ident [binders] : term .
assertion_keyword  ::=  Theorem | Lemma
                        | Remark | Fact
                        | Corollary | Proposition
                        | Definition | Example
proof              ::=  Proof . … Qed .
                        | Proof . … Defined .
                        | Proof . … Admitted .
decoration         ::=  #[ attributes ]
attributes         ::=  [attribute, … , attribute]
attribute          ::=   ident
                       | ident = string
                       | ident ( attributes )

This grammar describes The Vernacular which is the language of commands of Gallina. A sentence of the vernacular language, like in many natural languages, begins with a capital letter and ends with a dot.

Sentences may be decorated with so-called attributes, which are described in the corresponding section (Attributes).

The different kinds of command are described hereafter. They all suppose that the terms occurring in the sentences are well-typed.


Assumptions extend the environment with axioms, parameters, hypotheses or variables. An assumption binds an ident to a type. It is accepted by Coq if and only if this type is a correct type in the environment preexisting the declaration and if ident was not previously defined in the same module. This type is considered to be the type (or specification, or statement) assumed by ident and we say that ident has type type.

Command Parameter ident : type

This command links type to the name ident as its specification in the global context. The fact asserted by type is thus assumed as a postulate.

Error ident already exists.
Variant Parameter ident+ : type

Adds several parameters with specification type.

Variant Parameter ( ident+ : type )+

Adds blocks of parameters with different specifications.

Variant Local Parameter ( ident+ : type )+

Such parameters are never made accessible through their unqualified name by Import and its variants. You have to explicitly give their fully qualified name to refer to them.

Variant Local? Parameters ( ident+ : type )+
Variant Local? Axiom ( ident+ : type )+
Variant Local? Axioms ( ident+ : type )+
Variant Local? Conjecture ( ident+ : type )+
Variant Local? Conjectures ( ident+ : type )+

These variants are synonyms of Local? Parameter (ident+ : type )+.

Command Variable ident : type

This command links type to the name ident in the context of the current section (see Section Section mechanism for a description of the section mechanism). When the current section is closed, name ident will be unknown and every object using this variable will be explicitly parametrized (the variable is discharged). Using the Variable command out of any section is equivalent to using Local Parameter.

Error ident already exists.
Variant Variable ident+ : term

Links type to each ident.

Variant Variable ( ident+ : term )+

Adds blocks of variables with different specifications.

Variant Variables ( ident+ : term)+
Variant Hypothesis ( ident+ : term)+
Variant Hypotheses ( ident+ : term)+

These variants are synonyms of Variable(ident+ : term)+.


It is advised to use the commands Axiom, Conjecture and Hypothesis (and their plural forms) for logical postulates (i.e. when the assertion type is of sort Prop), and to use the commands Parameter and Variable (and their plural forms) in other cases (corresponding to the declaration of an abstract mathematical entity).


Definitions extend the environment with associations of names to terms. A definition can be seen as a way to give a meaning to a name or as a way to abbreviate a term. In any case, the name can later be replaced at any time by its definition.

The operation of unfolding a name into its definition is called \(\delta\)-conversion (see Section δ-reduction). A definition is accepted by the system if and only if the defined term is well-typed in the current context of the definition and if the name is not already used. The name defined by the definition is called a constant and the term it refers to is its body. A definition has a type which is the type of its body.

A formal presentation of constants and environments is given in Section Typing rules.

Command Definition ident := term

This command binds term to the name ident in the environment, provided that term is well-typed.

Error ident already exists.
Variant Definition ident : type := term

This variant checks that the type of term is definitionally equal to type, and registers ident as being of type type, and bound to value term.

Error The term term has type type while it is expected to have type type'.
Variant Definition ident binders : term? := term

This is equivalent to Definition ident : forall binders, term := fun binders => term.

Variant Local Definition ident binders? : type? := term

Such definitions are never made accessible through their unqualified name by Import and its variants. You have to explicitly give their fully qualified name to refer to them.

Variant Local? Example ident binders? : type? := term

This is equivalent to Definition.

See also

Opaque, Transparent, unfold.

Command Let ident := term

This command binds the value term to the name ident in the environment of the current section. The name ident disappears when the current section is eventually closed, and all persistent objects (such as theorems) defined within the section and depending on ident are prefixed by the let-in definition let ident := term in. Using the Let command out of any section is equivalent to using Local Definition.

Error ident already exists.
Variant Let ident binders? : type? := term
Variant Let Fixpoint ident fix_body with fix_body*
Variant Let CoFixpoint ident cofix_body with cofix_body*

See also

Section Section mechanism, commands Opaque, Transparent, and tactic unfold.

Inductive definitions

We gradually explain simple inductive types, simple annotated inductive types, simple parametric inductive types, mutually inductive types. We explain also co-inductive types.

Simple inductive types

Command Inductive ident : sort? := |? ident : type | ident : type*

This command defines a simple inductive type and its constructors. The first ident is the name of the inductively defined type and sort is the universe where it lives. The next idents are the names of its constructors and type their respective types. Depending on the universe where the inductive type ident lives (e.g. its type sort), Coq provides a number of destructors. Destructors are named ident_ind, ident_rec or ident_rect which respectively correspond to elimination principles on Prop, Set and Type. The type of the destructors expresses structural induction/recursion principles over objects of type ident. The constant ident_ind is always provided, whereas ident_rec and ident_rect can be impossible to derive (for example, when ident is a proposition).

Error Non strictly positive occurrence of ident in type.

The types of the constructors have to satisfy a positivity condition (see Section Positivity Condition). This condition ensures the soundness of the inductive definition.

Error The conclusion of type is not valid; it must be built from ident.

The conclusion of the type of the constructors must be the inductive type ident being defined (or ident applied to arguments in the case of annotated inductive types — cf. next section).


The set of natural numbers is defined as:

Inductive nat : Set := | O : nat | S : nat -> nat.
nat is defined nat_rect is defined nat_ind is defined nat_rec is defined

The type nat is defined as the least Set containing O and closed by the S constructor. The names nat, O and S are added to the environment.

Now let us have a look at the elimination principles. They are three of them: nat_ind, nat_rec and nat_rect. The type of nat_ind is:

Check nat_ind.
nat_ind : forall P : nat -> Prop, P O -> (forall n : nat, P n -> P (S n)) -> forall n : nat, P n

This is the well known structural induction principle over natural numbers, i.e. the second-order form of Peano’s induction principle. It allows proving some universal property of natural numbers (forall n:nat, P n) by induction on n.

The types of nat_rec and nat_rect are similar, except that they pertain to (P:nat->Set) and (P:nat->Type) respectively. They correspond to primitive induction principles (allowing dependent types) respectively over sorts Set and Type.

Variant Inductive ident : sort? := |? ident binders? : type?*|

Constructors idents can come with binders in which case, the actual type of the constructor is forall binders, type.

In the case where inductive types have no annotations (next section gives an example of such annotations), a constructor can be defined by only giving the type of its arguments.


Inductive nat : Set := O | S (_:nat).
Toplevel input, characters 0-37: > Inductive nat : Set := O | S (_:nat). > ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Error: nat already exists.

Simple annotated inductive types

In an annotated inductive types, the universe where the inductive type is defined is no longer a simple sort, but what is called an arity, which is a type whose conclusion is a sort.


As an example of annotated inductive types, let us define the even predicate:

Inductive even : nat -> Prop := | even_0 : even O | even_SS : forall n:nat, even n -> even (S (S n)).
even is defined even_ind is defined

The type nat->Prop means that even is a unary predicate (inductively defined) over natural numbers. The type of its two constructors are the defining clauses of the predicate even. The type of even_ind is:

Check even_ind.
even_ind : forall P : nat -> Prop, P O -> (forall n : nat, even n -> P n -> P (S (S n))) -> forall n : nat, even n -> P n

From a mathematical point of view it asserts that the natural numbers satisfying the predicate even are exactly in the smallest set of naturals satisfying the clauses even_0 or even_SS. This is why, when we want to prove any predicate P over elements of even, it is enough to prove it for O and to prove that if any natural number n satisfies P its double successor (S (S n)) satisfies also P. This is indeed analogous to the structural induction principle we got for nat.

Parametrized inductive types

Variant Inductive ident binders : type? := |? ident : type | ident : type*

In the previous example, each constructor introduces a different instance of the predicate even. In some cases, all the constructors introduce the same generic instance of the inductive definition, in which case, instead of an annotation, we use a context of parameters which are binders shared by all the constructors of the definition.

Parameters differ from inductive type annotations in the fact that the conclusion of each type of constructor invoke the inductive type with the same values of parameters as its specification.


A typical example is the definition of polymorphic lists:

Inductive list (A:Set) : Set := | nil : list A | cons : A -> list A -> list A.
list is defined list_rect is defined list_ind is defined list_rec is defined

In the type of nil and cons, we write (list A) and not just list. The constructors nil and cons will have respectively types:

Check nil.
nil : forall A : Set, list A
Check cons.
cons : forall A : Set, A -> list A -> list A

Types of destructors are also quantified with (A:Set).

Once again, it is possible to specify only the type of the arguments of the constructors, and to omit the type of the conclusion:

Inductive list (A:Set) : Set := nil | cons (_:A) (_:list A).
Toplevel input, characters 0-60: > Inductive list (A:Set) : Set := nil | cons (_:A) (_:list A). > ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Error: list already exists.


  • It is possible in the type of a constructor, to invoke recursively the inductive definition on an argument which is not the parameter itself.

    One can define :

    Inductive list2 (A:Set) : Set := | nil2 : list2 A | cons2 : A -> list2 (A*A) -> list2 A.
    list2 is defined list2_rect is defined list2_ind is defined list2_rec is defined

    that can also be written by specifying only the type of the arguments:

    Inductive list2 (A:Set) : Set := nil2 | cons2 (_:A) (_:list2 (A*A)).
    list2 is defined list2_rect is defined list2_ind is defined list2_rec is defined

    But the following definition will give an error:

    Fail Inductive listw (A:Set) : Set := | nilw : listw (A*A) | consw : A -> listw (A*A) -> listw (A*A).
    The command has indeed failed with message: Last occurrence of "listw" must have "A" as 1st argument in "listw (A * A)%type".

    because the conclusion of the type of constructors should be listw A in both cases.

  • A parametrized inductive definition can be defined using annotations instead of parameters but it will sometimes give a different (bigger) sort for the inductive definition and will produce a less convenient rule for case elimination.

Flag Uniform Inductive Parameters

When this option is set (it is off by default), inductive definitions are abstracted over their parameters before type checking constructors, allowing to write:

Set Uniform Inductive Parameters.
Inductive list3 (A:Set) : Set := | nil3 : list3 | cons3 : A -> list3 -> list3.
list3 is defined list3_rect is defined list3_ind is defined list3_rec is defined

This behavior is essentially equivalent to starting a new section and using Context to give the uniform parameters, like so (cf. Section mechanism):

Section list3.
Context (A:Set).
A is declared
Inductive list3 : Set := | nil3 : list3 | cons3 : A -> list3 -> list3.
Toplevel input, characters 0-70: > Inductive list3 : Set := | nil3 : list3 | cons3 : A -> list3 -> list3. > ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Error: list3 already exists.
End list3.

See also

Section Inductive Definitions and the induction tactic.


Command Variant ident binders : type? := |? ident : type | ident : type*

The Variant command is identical to the Inductive command, except that it disallows recursive definition of types (for instance, lists cannot be defined using Variant). No induction scheme is generated for this variant, unless option Nonrecursive Elimination Schemes is on.

Error The num th argument of ident must be ident in type.

Mutually defined inductive types

Variant Inductive ident : type? := |? ident : type*| with |? ident : type?*|*

This variant allows defining a block of mutually inductive types. It has the same semantics as the above Inductive definition for each ident. All ident are simultaneously added to the environment. Then well-typing of constructors can be checked. Each one of the ident can be used on its own.

Variant Inductive ident binders : type? := |? ident : type*| with |? ident binders : type?*|*

In this variant, the inductive definitions are parametrized with binders. However, parameters correspond to a local context in which the whole set of inductive declarations is done. For this reason, the parameters must be strictly the same for each inductive types.


The typical example of a mutual inductive data type is the one for trees and forests. We assume given two types A and B as variables. It can be declared the following way.

Variables A B : Set.
Toplevel input, characters 0-20: > Variables A B : Set. > ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Warning: A is declared as a local axiom [local-declaration,scope] A is declared Toplevel input, characters 0-20: > Variables A B : Set. > ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Warning: B is declared as a local axiom [local-declaration,scope] B is declared
Inductive tree : Set := node : A -> forest -> tree with forest : Set := | leaf : B -> forest | cons : tree -> forest -> forest.
tree, forest are defined tree_rect is defined tree_ind is defined tree_rec is defined forest_rect is defined forest_ind is defined forest_rec is defined

This declaration generates automatically six induction principles. They are respectively called tree_rec, tree_ind, tree_rect, forest_rec, forest_ind, forest_rect. These ones are not the most general ones but are just the induction principles corresponding to each inductive part seen as a single inductive definition.

To illustrate this point on our example, we give the types of tree_rec and forest_rec.

Check tree_rec.
tree_rec : forall P : tree -> Set, (forall (a : A) (f : forest), P (node a f)) -> forall t : tree, P t
Check forest_rec.
forest_rec : forall P : forest -> Set, (forall b : B, P (leaf b)) -> (forall (t : tree) (f0 : forest), P f0 -> P (cons t f0)) -> forall f1 : forest, P f1

Assume we want to parametrize our mutual inductive definitions with the two type variables A and B, the declaration should be done the following way:

Inductive tree (A B:Set) : Set := node : A -> forest A B -> tree A B with forest (A B:Set) : Set := | leaf : B -> forest A B | cons : tree A B -> forest A B -> forest A B.
Toplevel input, characters 46-54: > Inductive tree (A B:Set) : Set := node : A -> forest A B -> tree A B with forest (A B:Set) : Set := | leaf : B -> forest A B | cons : tree A B -> forest A B -> forest A B. > ^^^^^^^^ Error: Illegal application (Non-functional construction): The expression "forest" of type "Set" cannot be applied to the term "A" : "Set"

Assume we define an inductive definition inside a section (cf. Section mechanism). When the section is closed, the variables declared in the section and occurring free in the declaration are added as parameters to the inductive definition.

See also

A generic command Scheme is useful to build automatically various mutual induction principles.

Co-inductive types

The objects of an inductive type are well-founded with respect to the constructors of the type. In other words, such objects contain only a finite number of constructors. Co-inductive types arise from relaxing this condition, and admitting types whose objects contain an infinity of constructors. Infinite objects are introduced by a non-ending (but effective) process of construction, defined in terms of the constructors of the type.

Command CoInductive ident binders : type? := |? ident : type | ident : type*

This command introduces a co-inductive type. The syntax of the command is the same as the command Inductive. No principle of induction is derived from the definition of a co-inductive type, since such principles only make sense for inductive types. For co-inductive types, the only elimination principle is case analysis.


An example of a co-inductive type is the type of infinite sequences of natural numbers, usually called streams.

CoInductive Stream : Set := Seq : nat -> Stream -> Stream.
Stream is defined

The usual destructors on streams hd:Stream->nat and tl:Str->Str can be defined as follows:

Definition hd (x:Stream) := let (a,s) := x in a.
hd is defined
Definition tl (x:Stream) := let (a,s) := x in s.
tl is defined

Definition of co-inductive predicates and blocks of mutually co-inductive definitions are also allowed.


An example of a co-inductive predicate is the extensional equality on streams:

CoInductive EqSt : Stream -> Stream -> Prop :=   eqst : forall s1 s2:Stream,            hd s1 = hd s2 -> EqSt (tl s1) (tl s2) -> EqSt s1 s2.
EqSt is defined

In order to prove the extensional equality of two streams s1 and s2 we have to construct an infinite proof of equality, that is, an infinite object of type (EqSt s1 s2). We will see how to introduce infinite objects in Section Definitions of recursive objects in co-inductive types.


The ability to define co-inductive types by constructors, hereafter called positive co-inductive types, is known to break subject reduction. The story is a bit long: this is due to dependent pattern-matching which implies propositional η-equality, which itself would require full η-conversion for subject reduction to hold, but full η-conversion is not acceptable as it would make type-checking undecidable.

Since the introduction of primitive records in Coq 8.5, an alternative presentation is available, called negative co-inductive types. This consists in defining a co-inductive type as a primitive record type through its projections. Such a technique is akin to the co-pattern style that can be found in e.g. Agda, and preserves subject reduction.

The above example can be rewritten in the following way.

Set Primitive Projections.
CoInductive Stream : Set := Seq { hd : nat; tl : Stream }.
Toplevel input, characters 0-58: > CoInductive Stream : Set := Seq { hd : nat; tl : Stream }. > ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Error: Stream already exists.
CoInductive EqSt (s1 s2: Stream) : Prop := eqst {   eqst_hd : hd s1 = hd s2;   eqst_tl : EqSt (tl s1) (tl s2); }.
Toplevel input, characters 0-113: > CoInductive EqSt (s1 s2: Stream) : Prop := eqst { eqst_hd : hd s1 = hd s2; eqst_tl : EqSt (tl s1) (tl s2); }. > ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Error: EqSt already exists.

Some properties that hold over positive streams are lost when going to the negative presentation, typically when they imply equality over streams. For instance, propositional η-equality is lost when going to the negative presentation. It is nonetheless logically consistent to recover it through an axiom.

Axiom Stream_eta : forall s: Stream, s = cons (hs s) (tl s).
Toplevel input, characters 47-49: > Axiom Stream_eta : forall s: Stream, s = cons (hs s) (tl s). > ^^ Error: The reference hs was not found in the current environment.

More generally, as in the case of positive coinductive types, it is consistent to further identify extensional equality of coinductive types with propositional equality:

Axiom Stream_ext : forall (s1 s2: Stream), EqSt s1 s2 -> s1 = s2.
Stream_ext is declared

As of Coq 8.9, it is now advised to use negative co-inductive types rather than their positive counterparts.

See also

Primitive Projections for more information about negative records and primitive projections.

Definition of recursive functions

Definition of functions by recursion over inductive objects

This section describes the primitive form of definition by recursion over inductive objects. See the Function command for more advanced constructions.

Command Fixpoint ident binders {struct ident}? : type? := term

This command allows defining functions by pattern matching over inductive objects using a fixed point construction. The meaning of this declaration is to define ident a recursive function with arguments specified by the binders such that ident applied to arguments corresponding to these binders has type type, and is equivalent to the expression term. The type of ident is consequently forall binders, type and its value is equivalent to fun binders => term.

To be accepted, a Fixpoint definition has to satisfy some syntactical constraints on a special argument called the decreasing argument. They are needed to ensure that the Fixpoint definition always terminates. The point of the {struct ident} annotation is to let the user tell the system which argument decreases along the recursive calls.

The {struct ident} annotation may be left implicit, in this case the system tries successively arguments from left to right until it finds one that satisfies the decreasing condition.


  • Some fixpoints may have several arguments that fit as decreasing arguments, and this choice influences the reduction of the fixpoint. Hence an explicit annotation must be used if the leftmost decreasing argument is not the desired one. Writing explicit annotations can also speed up type checking of large mutual fixpoints.
  • In order to keep the strong normalization property, the fixed point reduction will only be performed when the argument in position of the decreasing argument (which type should be in an inductive definition) starts with a constructor.


One can define the addition function as :

Fixpoint add (n m:nat) {struct n} : nat := match n with | O => m | S p => S (add p m) end.
add is defined add is recursively defined (decreasing on 1st argument)

The match operator matches a value (here n) with the various constructors of its (inductive) type. The remaining arguments give the respective values to be returned, as functions of the parameters of the corresponding constructor. Thus here when n equals O we return m, and when n equals (S p) we return (S (add p m)).

The match operator is formally described in Section The match ... with ... end construction. The system recognizes that in the inductive call (add p m) the first argument actually decreases because it is a pattern variable coming from match n with.


The following definition is not correct and generates an error message:

Fail Fixpoint wrongplus (n m:nat) {struct n} : nat := match m with | O => n | S p => S (wrongplus n p) end.
The command has indeed failed with message: Recursive definition of wrongplus is ill-formed. In environment wrongplus : nat -> nat -> nat n : nat m : nat p : nat Recursive call to wrongplus has principal argument equal to "n" instead of a subterm of "n". Recursive definition is: "fun n m : nat => match m with | 0 => n | S p => S (wrongplus n p) end".

because the declared decreasing argument n does not actually decrease in the recursive call. The function computing the addition over the second argument should rather be written:

Fixpoint plus (n m:nat) {struct m} : nat := match m with | O => n | S p => S (plus n p) end.
plus is defined plus is recursively defined (decreasing on 2nd argument)


The recursive call may not only be on direct subterms of the recursive variable n but also on a deeper subterm and we can directly write the function mod2 which gives the remainder modulo 2 of a natural number.

Fixpoint mod2 (n:nat) : nat := match n with | O => O | S p => match p with          | O => S O          | S q => mod2 q          end end.
mod2 is defined mod2 is recursively defined (decreasing on 1st argument)
Variant Fixpoint ident binders {struct ident}? : type? := term with ident binders : type? := term*

This variant allows defining simultaneously several mutual fixpoints. It is especially useful when defining functions over mutually defined inductive types.


The size of trees and forests can be defined the following way:

Fixpoint tree_size (t:tree) : nat := match t with | node a f => S (forest_size f) end with forest_size (f:forest) : nat := match f with | leaf b => 1 | cons t f' => (tree_size t + forest_size f') end.
tree_size is defined forest_size is defined tree_size, forest_size are recursively defined (decreasing respectively on 1st, 1st arguments)

Definitions of recursive objects in co-inductive types

Command CoFixpoint ident binders? : type? := term

This command introduces a method for constructing an infinite object of a coinductive type. For example, the stream containing all natural numbers can be introduced applying the following method to the number O (see Section Co-inductive types for the definition of Stream, hd and tl):

CoFixpoint from (n:nat) : Stream := Seq n (from (S n)).
from is defined from is corecursively defined

Oppositely to recursive ones, there is no decreasing argument in a co-recursive definition. To be admissible, a method of construction must provide at least one extra constructor of the infinite object for each iteration. A syntactical guard condition is imposed on co-recursive definitions in order to ensure this: each recursive call in the definition must be protected by at least one constructor, and only by constructors. That is the case in the former definition, where the single recursive call of from is guarded by an application of Seq. On the contrary, the following recursive function does not satisfy the guard condition:

Fail CoFixpoint filter (p:nat -> bool) (s:Stream) : Stream :=   if p (hd s) then Seq (hd s) (filter p (tl s)) else filter p (tl s).
The command has indeed failed with message: Recursive definition of filter is ill-formed. In environment filter : (nat -> bool) -> Stream -> Stream p : nat -> bool s : Stream Unguarded recursive call in "filter p (tl s)". Recursive definition is: "fun (p : nat -> bool) (s : Stream) => if p (hd s) then Seq (hd s) (filter p (tl s)) else filter p (tl s)".

The elimination of co-recursive definition is done lazily, i.e. the definition is expanded only when it occurs at the head of an application which is the argument of a case analysis expression. In any other context, it is considered as a canonical expression which is completely evaluated. We can test this using the command Eval, which computes the normal forms of a term:

Eval compute in (from 0).
= (cofix from (n : nat) : Stream := Seq n (from (S n))) 0 : Stream
Eval compute in (hd (from 0)).
= 0 : nat
Eval compute in (tl (from 0)).
= (cofix from (n : nat) : Stream := Seq n (from (S n))) 1 : Stream
Variant CoFixpoint ident binders? : type? := term with ident binders? : type? := term*

As in the Fixpoint command, it is possible to introduce a block of mutually dependent methods.

Assertions and proofs

An assertion states a proposition (or a type) of which the proof (or an inhabitant of the type) is interactively built using tactics. The interactive proof mode is described in Chapter Proof handling and the tactics in Chapter Tactics. The basic assertion command is:

Command Theorem ident binders? : type

After the statement is asserted, Coq needs a proof. Once a proof of type under the assumptions represented by binders is given and validated, the proof is generalized into a proof of forall binders, type and the theorem is bound to the name ident in the environment.

Error The term term has type type which should be Set, Prop or Type.
Error ident already exists.

The name you provided is already defined. You have then to choose another name.

Error Nested proofs are not allowed unless you turn option Nested Proofs Allowed on.

You are asserting a new statement while already being in proof editing mode. This feature, called nested proofs, is disabled by default. To activate it, turn option Nested Proofs Allowed on.

Variant Lemma ident binders? : type
Variant Remark ident binders? : type
Variant Fact ident binders? : type
Variant Corollary ident binders? : type
Variant Proposition ident binders? : type

These commands are all synonyms of Theorem ident binders? : type.

Variant Theorem ident binders? : type with ident binders? : type*

This command is useful for theorems that are proved by simultaneous induction over a mutually inductive assumption, or that assert mutually dependent statements in some mutual co-inductive type. It is equivalent to Fixpoint or CoFixpoint but using tactics to build the proof of the statements (or the body of the specification, depending on the point of view). The inductive or co-inductive types on which the induction or coinduction has to be done is assumed to be non ambiguous and is guessed by the system.

Like in a Fixpoint or CoFixpoint definition, the induction hypotheses have to be used on structurally smaller arguments (for a Fixpoint) or be guarded by a constructor (for a CoFixpoint). The verification that recursive proof arguments are correct is done only at the time of registering the lemma in the environment. To know if the use of induction hypotheses is correct at some time of the interactive development of a proof, use the command Guarded.

The command can be used also with Lemma, Remark, etc. instead of Theorem.

Variant Definition ident binders? : type

This allows defining a term of type type using the proof editing mode. It behaves as Theorem but is intended to be used in conjunction with Defined in order to define a constant of which the computational behavior is relevant.

The command can be used also with Example instead of Definition.

See also

Opaque, Transparent, unfold.

Variant Let ident binders? : type

Like Definition ident binders? : type except that the definition is turned into a let-in definition generalized over the declarations depending on it after closing the current section.

Variant Fixpoint ident binders : type with ident binders : type*

This generalizes the syntax of Fixpoint so that one or more bodies can be defined interactively using the proof editing mode (when a body is omitted, its type is mandatory in the syntax). When the block of proofs is completed, it is intended to be ended by Defined.

Variant CoFixpoint ident binders? : type with ident binders? : type*

This generalizes the syntax of CoFixpoint so that one or more bodies can be defined interactively using the proof editing mode.

A proof starts by the keyword Proof. Then Coq enters the proof editing mode until the proof is completed. The proof editing mode essentially contains tactics that are described in chapter Tactics. Besides tactics, there are commands to manage the proof editing mode. They are described in Chapter Proof handling.

When the proof is completed it should be validated and put in the environment using the keyword Qed.


  1. Several statements can be simultaneously asserted provided option Nested Proofs Allowed was turned on.
  2. Not only other assertions but any vernacular command can be given while in the process of proving a given assertion. In this case, the command is understood as if it would have been given before the statements still to be proved. Nonetheless, this practice is discouraged and may stop working in future versions.
  3. Proofs ended by Qed are declared opaque. Their content cannot be unfolded (see Performing computations), thus realizing some form of proof-irrelevance. To be able to unfold a proof, the proof should be ended by Defined.
  4. Proof is recommended but can currently be omitted. On the opposite side, Qed (or Defined) is mandatory to validate a proof.
  5. One can also use Admitted in place of Qed to turn the current asserted statement into an axiom and exit the proof editing mode.
[1]This is similar to the expression “entry \(\{\) sep entry \(\}\)” in standard BNF, or “entry \((\) sep entry \()\)*” in the syntax of regular expressions.
[2]Except if the inductive type is empty in which case there is no equation that can be used to infer the return type.


Any vernacular command can be decorated with a list of attributes, enclosed between #[ (hash and opening square bracket) and ] (closing square bracket) and separated by commas ,.

Each attribute has a name (an identifier) and may have a value. A value is either a string (in which case it is specified with an equal = sign), or a list of attributes, enclosed within brackets.

Currently, the following attributes names are recognized:

monomorphic, polymorphic
Take no value, analogous to the Monomorphic and Polymorphic flags (see Polymorphic Universes).
Takes no value, analogous to the Program flag (see Program).
global, local
Take no value, analogous to the Global and Local flags (see Controlling the locality of commands).

Takes as value the optional attributes since and note; both have a string value.

This attribute can trigger the following warnings:

Warning Tactic qualid is deprecated since string. string.
Warning Tactic Notation qualid is deprecated since string. string.

Here are a few examples:

From Coq Require Program.
[Loading ML file extraction_plugin.cmxs ... done]
#[program] Definition one : nat := S _.
one has type-checked, generating 1 obligation Solving obligations automatically... 1 obligation remaining Obligation 1 of one: nat.
Next Obligation.
1 subgoal ============================ nat
exact O.
No more subgoals.
one_obligation_1 is defined No more obligations remaining one is defined
#[deprecated(since="8.9.0", note="Use idtac instead.")] Ltac foo := idtac.
foo is defined
Goal True.
1 subgoal ============================ True
now foo.
Toplevel input, characters 4-7: > now foo. > ^^^ Warning: Tactic foo is deprecated since 8.9.0. Use idtac instead. [deprecated-tactic,deprecated] No more subgoals.