Bag Equality via a Proof-Relevant Membership Relation

March 16th, 2010 by Nils Anders Danielsson

Last week I talked about a definition of bag equality—equality up to permutation—which I have used recently. The definition works for arbitrary containers, but for simplicity I will focus on lists.

The predicate transformer Any can be defined as follows (in Agda):

  data Any {A : Set} (P : A → Set) : List A → Set where
    here  : ∀ {x xs} → P x      → Any P (x ∷ xs)
    there : ∀ {x xs} → Any P xs → Any P (x ∷ xs)

Any P xs means that any element in xs satisfies P. Using Any and an equality relation it is easy to define the membership relation:

  _∈_ : {A : Set} → A → List A → Set
  x ∈ xs = Any (_≡_ x) xs

Finally bag equality can be defined:

  _≈_ : {A : Set} → List A → List A → Set
  xs ≈ ys = ∀ x → x ∈ xs ⇿ x ∈ ys

Here A ⇿ B is the set of invertible functions between A and B. Two lists xs and ys are equal when viewed as bags if, for every element x, the two sets x ∈ xs and x ∈ ys are equipotent; note that if x occurs a certain number of times in xs, then there will be a corresponding number of distinct elements in x ∈ xs.

The definition above has some nice properties:

  • If _⇿_ is replaced by equivalence (coinhabitance), then we get set equality instead of bag equality. This uniformity can be exploited; one can for instance prove that map preserves bag and set equality using a single, uniform proof.
  • The definition generalises to other containers, including types with infinite values (like streams).
  • The use of Any can give some convenient wiggle room in proofs.

Let me illustrate the last point by proving that bind distributes from the left over append:

  xs >>= (λ x → f x ++ g x) ≈ (xs >>= f) ++ (xs >>= g)

This property does not hold for ordinary list equality (one way to see this is to let xs be true ∷ false ∷ [] and f and g both be return). I will make use of the following properties:

  (∀ x → P₁ x ⇿ P₂ x) → xs₁ ≈ xs₂ → Any P₁ xs₁ ⇿ Any P₂ xs₂
  A ⇿ B → C ⇿ D → (A ⊎ C) ⇿ (B ⊎ D)

  Any P (xs ++ ys)          ⇿  Any P xs ⊎ Any P ys
  Any (λ x → P x ⊎ Q x) xs  ⇿  Any P xs ⊎ Any Q xs
  Any P (map f xs)          ⇿  Any (P ∘ f) xs
  Any P (concat xss)        ⇿  Any (Any P) xss

From the last two properties we get a derived property for bind:

  Any P (xs >>= f)           ⇿
  Any P (concat (map f xs))  ⇿
  Any (Any P) (map f xs)     ⇿
  Any (Any P ∘ f) xs

Using these properties we can prove left distributivity. The proof is a simple calculation:

  y ∈ (xs >>= λ x → f x ++ g x)                    ⇿
  Any (λ x → y ∈ f x ++ g x) xs                    ⇿
  Any (λ x → y ∈ f x ⊎ y ∈ g x) xs                 ⇿
  Any (λ x → y ∈ f x) xs ⊎ Any (λ x → y ∈ g x) xs  ⇿
  y ∈ (xs >>= f) ⊎ y ∈ (xs >>= g)                  ⇿
  y ∈ (xs >>= f) ++ (xs >>= g)

The “wiggle room” I mentioned above is visible in the calculation: the proof does not refer solely to _∈_ y, i.e. Any (_≡_ y), but also to Any P for other predicates P.

The definitions of Any and bag and set equality are available in Agda’s standard library (Data.List.Any), along with the proof of left distributivity (Data.List.Any.BagAndSetEquality).

One Response to “Bag Equality via a Proof-Relevant Membership Relation”

  1. Conor Says:

    Hi Nisse

    Just to remark that this use of membership is highly reminiscent of the Backhouse-Hoogendijk notion of container. Membership is being-equal-to-what’s-at-some-position-in, so it all works out the same, if you’re sufficiently blasé about what “being equal” means…



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