The Conversion Tactic Mode

Inside a tactic block, one can use the keyword conv to enter conversion mode. This mode allows to travel inside assumptions and goals, even inside function abstractions and dependent arrows, to apply rewriting or simplifying steps.

Basic navigation and rewriting

As a first example, let us prove example (a b c : Nat) : a * (b * c) = a * (c * b) (examples in this file are somewhat artificial since other tactics could finish them immediately). The naive first attempt is to enter tactic mode and try rw [Nat.mul_comm]. But this transforms the goal into b * c * a = a * (c * b), after commuting the very first multiplication appearing in the term. There are several ways to fix this issue, and one way is to use a more precise tool : the conversion mode. The following code block shows the current target after each line.

example (a b c : Nat) : a * (b * c) = a * (c * b) := by
  conv =>
    -- |- a * (b * c) = a * (c * b)
    lhs
    -- |- a * (b * c)
    congr
    -- 2 goals : |- a and |- b * c
    rfl
    -- |- b * c
    rw [Nat.mul_comm]

The above snippet show three navigation commands:

  • lhs navigates to the left hand side of a relation (here equality), there is also a rhs navigating to the right hand side.
  • congr creates as many targets as there are (nondependent and explicit) arguments to the current head function (here the head function is multiplication).
  • rfl closes target using reflexivity.

Once arrived at the relevant target, we can use rw as in normal tactic mode.

The second main reason to use conversion mode is to rewrite under binders. Suppose we want to prove example (fun x : Nat => 0 + x) = (fun x => x). The naive first attempt is to enter tactic mode and try rw [zero_add]. But this fails with a frustrating

error: tactic 'rewrite' failed, did not find instance of the pattern
       in the target expression
  0 + ?n
⊢ (fun x => 0 + x) = fun x => x

The solution is:

example : (fun x : Nat => 0 + x) = (fun x => x) := by
  conv =>
    lhs
    intro x
    rw [Nat.zero_add]

where intro x is the navigation command entering inside the fun binder. Note that this example is somewhat artificial, one could also do:

example : (fun x : Nat => 0 + x) = (fun x => x) := by
  funext x; rw [Nat.zero_add]

or just

example : (fun x : Nat => 0 + x) = (fun x => x) := by
  simp

All this is also available to rewrite an hypothesis h from the local context using conv at h.

Pattern matching

Navigation using the above commands can be tedious. One can shortcut it using pattern matching as follows:

example (a b c : Nat) : a * (b * c) = a * (c * b) := by
  conv in b * c => rw [Nat.mul_comm]

which is just syntax sugar for

example (a b c : Nat) : a * (b * c) = a * (c * b) := by
  conv =>
    pattern b * c
    rw [Nat.mul_comm]

Of course, wildcards are allowed:

example (a b c : Nat) : a * (b * c) = a * (c * b) := by
  conv in _ * c => rw [Nat.mul_comm]

Structuring conversion tactics

Curly brackets and . can also be used in conv mode to structure tactics.

example (a b c : Nat) : (0 + a) * (b * c) = a * (c * b) := by
  conv =>
    lhs
    congr
    . rw [Nat.zero_add]
    . rw [Nat.mul_comm]

Other tactics inside conversion mode

  • arg i enter the i-th nondependent explicit argument of an application.
example (a b c : Nat) : a * (b * c) = a * (c * b) := by
  conv =>
    -- |- a * (b * c) = a * (c * b)
    lhs
    -- |- a * (b * c)
    arg 2
    -- |- b * c
    rw [Nat.mul_comm]
  • args alternative name for congr

  • simp applies the simplifier to the current goal. It supports the same options available in regular tactic mode.

def f (x : Nat) :=
  if x > 0 then x + 1 else x + 2

example (g : Nat → Nat) (h₁ : g x = x + 1) (h₂ : x > 0) : g x = f x := by
  conv =>
    rhs
    simp [f, h₂]
  exact h₁
  • enter [1, x, 2, y] iterate arg and intro with the given arguments. It is just the macro.
syntax enterArg := ident <|> num
syntax "enter " "[" (colGt enterArg),+ "]": conv
macro_rules
  | `(conv| enter [$i:numLit]) => `(conv| arg $i)
  | `(conv| enter [$id:ident]) => `(conv| ext $id)
  | `(conv| enter [$arg:enterArg, $args,*]) => `(conv| (enter [$arg]; enter [$args,*]))
  • done fail if there are unsolved goals.

  • traceState display the current tactic state.

  • whnf put term in weak head normal form.

  • tactic => <tactic sequence> go back to regular tactic mode. This is useful for discharging goals not supported by conv mode, and applying custom congruence and extensionality lemmas.

example (g : Nat → Nat → Nat)
        (h₁ : ∀ x, x ≠ 0 → g x x = 1)
        (h₂ : x ≠ 0)
        : g x x + x = 1 + x := by
  conv =>
    lhs
    -- |- g x x + x
    arg 1
    -- |- g x x
    rw [h₁]
    -- 2 goals: |- 1, |- x ≠ 0
    . skip
    . tactic => exact h₂
  • apply <term> is syntax sugar for tactic => apply <term>
example (g : Nat → Nat → Nat)
        (h₁ : ∀ x, x ≠ 0 → g x x = 1)
        (h₂ : x ≠ 0)
        : g x x + x = 1 + x := by
  conv =>
    lhs
    arg 1
    rw [h₁]
    . skip
    . apply h₂