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This report is a first attempt of formalizing the diagonalization proof technique.We give a strategy how to systematically construct diagonalization proofs: (i) findingan indexing relation, (ii) constructing a diagonal element, and (iii) making the implicitcontradiction of the diagonal element explicit. We suggest a declarative representationof the strategy and describe how it can be realized in a proof planning environment.

Extending the planADbased paradigm for auto-mated theorem proving, we developed in previ-ous work a declarative approach towards rep-resenting methods in a proof planning frame-work to support their mechanical modification.This paper presents a detailed study of a classof particular methods, embodying variations ofa mathematical technique called diagonaliza-tion. The purpose of this paper is mainly two-fold. First we demonstrate that typical math-ematical methods can be represented in ourframework in a natural way. Second we illus-trate our philosophy of proof planning: besidesplanning with a fixed repertoire of methods,metaADmethods create new methods by modify-ing existing ones. With the help of three differ-ent diagonalization problems we present an ex-ample trace protocol of the evolution of meth-ods: an initial method is extracted from a par-ticular successful proof. This initial method isthen reformulated for the subsequent problems,and more general methods can be obtained byabstracting existing methods. Finally we comeup with a fairly abstract method capable ofdealing with all the three problems, since it cap-tures the very key idea of diagonalization.

The reasoning power of human-oriented plan-based reasoning systems is primarilyderived from their domain-specific problem solving knowledge. Such knowledge is, how-ever, intrinsically incomplete. In order to model the human ability of adapting existingmethods to new situations we present in this work a declarative approach for represent-ing methods, which can be adapted by so-called meta-methods. Since apparently thesuccess of this approach relies on the existence of general and strong meta-methods,we describe several meta-methods of general interest in detail by presenting the prob-lem solving process of two familiar classes of mathematical problems. These examplesshould illustrate our philosophy of proof planning as well: besides planning with thecurrent repertoire of methods, the repertoire of methods evolves with experience inthat new ones are created by meta-methods which modify existing ones.

In this article we formally describe a declarative approach for encoding plan operatorsin proof planning, the so-called methods. The notion of method evolves from the much studiedconcept tactic and was first used by Bundy. While significant deductive power has been achievedwith the planning approach towards automated deduction, the procedural character of the tacticpart of methods, however, hinders mechanical modification. Although the strength of a proofplanning system largely depends on powerful general procedures which solve a large class ofproblems, mechanical or even automated modification of methods is nevertheless necessary forat least two reasons. Firstly methods designed for a specific type of problem will never begeneral enough. For instance, it is very difficult to encode a general method which solves allproblems a human mathematician might intuitively consider as a case of homomorphy. Secondlythe cognitive ability of adapting existing methods to suit novel situations is a fundamentalpart of human mathematical competence. We believe it is extremely valuable to accountcomputationally for this kind of reasoning.The main part of this article is devoted to a declarative language for encoding methods,composed of a tactic and a specification. The major feature of our approach is that the tacticpart of a method is split into a declarative and a procedural part in order to enable a tractableadaption of methods. The applicability of a method in a planning situation is formulatedin the specification, essentially consisting of an object level formula schema and a meta-levelformula of a declarative constraint language. After setting up our general framework, wemainly concentrate on this constraint language. Furthermore we illustrate how our methodscan be used in a Strips-like planning framework. Finally we briefly illustrate the mechanicalmodification of declaratively encoded methods by so-called meta-methods.

We present an empirical study of mathematical proofs by diagonalization, the aim istheir mechanization based on proof planning techniques. We show that these proofs canbe constructed according to a strategy that (i) finds an indexing relation, (ii) constructsa diagonal element, and (iii) makes the implicit contradiction of the diagonal elementexplicit. Moreover we suggest how diagonal elements can be represented.