We would all like to have programs check that our programs are correct. Due in no small part to some bold but unfulfilled promises in the history of computer science, today most people who write software, practitioners and academics alike, assume that the costs of formal program verification outweigh the benefits. The purpose of this book is to convince you that the technology of program verification is mature enough today that it makes sense to use it in a support role in many kinds of research projects in computer science. Beyond the convincing, I also want to provide a handbook on practical engineering of certified programs with the Coq proof assistant. Almost every subject covered is also relevant to interactive computer theorem-proving in general, such as for traditional mathematical theorems. In fact, I hope to demonstrate how verified programs are useful as building blocks in all sorts of formalizations.
Around the beginning of the 21st century, the pace of progress in practical applications of interactive theorem proving accelerated significantly. Several well-known formal developments have been carried out in Coq, the system that this book deals with. In the realm of pure mathematics, Georges Gonthier built a machine-checked proof of the four-color theorem, a mathematical problem first posed more than a hundred years before, where the only previous proofs had required trusting ad-hoc software to do brute-force checking of key facts. In the realm of program verification, Xavier Leroy led the CompCert project to produce a verified C compiler back-end robust enough to use with real embedded software.