define a new abstract single-threaded object
Major Section:  EVENTS

We assume familiarity with single-threaded objects; see stobj and see defstobj. The event defabsstobj defines a so-called ``abstract stobj'', a notion we introduce briefly now and then explain in more depth below.

The evaluation of a defstobj event produces logical definitions for several functions: a recognizer, which characterizes the stobj in terms of lists; a creator, which produces an initial suitable list structure; and field accessors and updators, defined in terms of nth and update-nth. Defabsstobj provides a way to define alternate definitions for ``stobj primitives'' for a corresponding single-threaded object. These stobj primitives include a recognizer, a creator, and other ``exported'' functions. In essence, defabsstobj establishes interface functions, or ``exports'', on a new stobj that is a copy of an indicated ``concrete'' stobj that already exists.

We begin below with an introduction to abstract stobjs. We then explain the defabsstobj event by way of an example. We conclude by giving summary documentation for the defabsstobj event.

For another introduction to abstract stobjs, see the paper ``Abstract Stobjs and Their Application to ISA Modeling'' by Shilpi Goel, Warren A. Hunt, Jr., and Matt Kaufmann, in the proceedings of ACL2 Workshop 2013,


We start with a brief review of stobjs and some potential problems with them, followed by an introduction to abstract stobjs and how they can avoid these problems. Prior experience with stobjs will probably help the reader to absorb the ideas below.

Recall that single-threaded objects, or stobjs, provide a way for ACL2 users to stay within the ACL2 logic, where every data object is an atom or a cons of data objects, while obtaining the benefits of fast evaluation through destructive updates. Consider for example this very simple event.

(defstobj st fld)
This event introduces a recognizer, stp, and a creator, create-st, for a data structure consisting of a single field accessed and updated by functions fld and update-fld, respectively. Each of these four primitive functions has both a logical definition, which is used when the prover reasons about the function, and an executable definition, which is used in raw Lisp. In the logic, stp recognizes objects that have the requisite fields. In raw Lisp, there is a ``live stobj'', which is an array object whose fields correspond to those specified by the defstobj event, implemented as Lisp arrays.

Here are the logical definition and the executable definition, respectively, that are introduced for the field accessor, fld, introduced above. Notice that since a stobj is represented in raw Lisp using an array, the raw Lisp accessor uses a raw Lisp array accessor, svref. (You can see all the logical and executable definitions by evaluating the form (trace$ defstobj-axiomatic-defs defstobj-raw-defs) before evaluating the defstobj form.)

; logical definition
(defun fld (st)
  (declare (xargs :guard (stp st)
                  :verify-guards t))
  (nth 0 st))

; executable (raw Lisp) definition
(defun fld (st)
  (svref st 0))

Sophisticated programming with stobjs can provide efficient implementations of algorithms, but may require the preservation of a complex invariant. One can, of course, define a function to implement such an invariant after introducing the stobj, as follows.

; Introduce a stobj.
(defstobj st fld1 ... fldk)

; Define an invariant on that stobj.
(defun good-stp (st)
  (declare (xargs :stobjs st))

; Define some basic functions that update the stobj and preserve the
; invariant.
(defun update-st (... st ...)
  (declare (xargs :stobjs st
                  :guard (and (good-stp st) ...)))

; Prove that the invariant is indeed preserved by those basic functions.
(defthm good-stp-update-st
  (implies (and (good-stp st)
           (good-stp (update-st ... st ...))))

; Implement algorithms built on the basic functions.
(defun foo (... st ...)
  (declare (xargs :stobjs st
                  :guard (and (good-stp st) ...)))
  ... (update-st ... st ...) ...)

; Prove invariance theorems about these algorithms.
(defthm good-stp-foo
  (implies (and (good-stp st)
           (good-stp (foo ... st ...))))

; Prove other properties of these algorithms.
(defthm foo-is-correct
  (implies (and (good-stp st)
           (some-property (foo ... st ...))))

But there are at least two potential difficulties in using stobjs as described above.

1. When foo is executed on concrete data in the ACL2 loop, the guard check may be expensive because (good-stp st) is expensive.

2. Reasoning about foo (using rules like foo-is-correct above) involves proving hypotheses of invariance theorems, which may be complicated for the user to manage or slow for the theorem prover.

The defabsstobj event offers an opportunity to address these issues. It introduces a new stobj, which we call an ``abstract stobj'', which is associated with a corresponding ``concrete stobj'' introduced by an earlier defstobj event. The defabsstobj event specifies a logical (:LOGIC) and an executable (:EXEC) definition for each primitive operation, or ``stobj primitive'', involving that stobj. As is the case for defstobj, the logical definition is what ACL2 reasons about, and is appropriate to apply to an ACL2 object satisfying the logical definition of the recognizer function for the stobj. The executable definition is applied in raw Lisp to a live stobj, which is an array object associated with the given stobj name.

We can picture a sequence of updates to corresponding abstract and concrete stobjs as follows. Initially in this picture, st$a0 and st$c0 are a corresponding abstract and concrete stobj (respectively). Then an update, u1, is applied with :LOGIC and :EXEC functions u$a1 and u$c1, respectively. The resulting abstract and concrete stobj, st$a1 and st$c1, correspond as before. Then a second update, u2, is applied with :LOGIC and :EXEC functions u$a2 and u$c2, respectively -- again preserving the correspondence. And so on.

Abstract               u$a1       u$a2       u$a3
(:logic)         st$a0  --> st$a1  --> st$a2  -->   ...

                   ^          ^          ^               ^
Correspondence     |          |          |          ...  |
                   v          v          v               v

                       u$c1       u$c2       u$c3
Concrete         st$c0  --> st$c1  --> st$c2  -->   ...

We conclude this introduction with some remarks about implementation. Consider an abstract stobj st with corresponding concrete stobj st$c. The live stobjs for st and st$c have the same structure, but are distinct arrays. Indeed, the raw Lisp creator function for st$c is called to create a new initial live stobj for st. As we will see below, reads and writes in raw Lisp to the live stobj for st are ultimately performed using the primitive accessors and updaters defined for st$c. One might think of the live stobjs for st and st$c as being congruent stobjs (see defstobj), except that the stobjs themselves are not congruent: the stobj primitives introduced for st may be applied to st but not arbitrary field updaters of st$c, for example. As one might expect, the :EXEC function for an exported function is applied to the live stobj for st in raw Lisp.


We present examples, with detailed comments intended to explain abstract stobjs, in two community books: books/misc/defabsstobj-example-1.lisp and books/misc/defabsstobj-example-2.lisp. In this section we outline the first of these. We suggest that after you finish this documentation topic, you read through those two books.

Here is the first of two closely related defabsstobj events from the book defabsstobj-example-1.lisp, but in expanded form. We will show the abbreviated form later, which omits most of data in the form that is immediately below. Thus most of the information shown here is default information. We believe that the comments below explain most or all of what you need to know in order to start using defabsstobj, and that you will learn the remainder when you see error messages. For example, we do not say in the comments below that every :LOGIC and :EXEC function must be guard-verified, but that is indeed a requirement.

(defabsstobj st ; The new abstract stobj is named st.

; The concrete stobj corresponding to st is st$c:

  :concrete st$c

; The recognizer for the new abstract stobj is stp, which is defined to be
; st$ap in the logic, and is executed on the live stobj in raw Lisp using
; st$cp.

  :recognizer (stp :logic st$ap :exec st$cp)

; The initial stobj is defined as create-st (a function of no arguments),
; which is defined logically as create-st$a, though create-st$c is invoked to
; create the initial live stobj for st.  The :correspondence and :preserved
; keywords refer to proof obligations, discussed below.

  :creator (create-st :logic create-st$a :exec create-st$c
                      :correspondence create-st{correspondence}
                      :preserved create-st{preserved})

; Proof obligations are generated that involve a correspondence between the
; new abstract stobj and corresponding concrete stobj.  The function
; st$corr, which need not be executable (see :DOC defun-nx), takes two
; arguments, a concrete stobj and an abstract stobj.  This function symbol is
; used in the statements of the proof obligations.

  :corr-fn st$corr

; In this example we have four exports.  In each case a new function is
; introduced that has the same signature as its :EXEC function, except that
; st$c is replaced by st.  The :LOGIC and :EXEC functions are as specified,
; and the other keywords refer to proof obligations that we discuss below.

  :exports ((lookup :logic lookup$a
                    :exec mem$ci
                    :correspondence lookup{correspondence}
                    :guard-thm lookup{guard-thm})
            (update :logic update$a
                    :exec update-mem$ci
                    :correspondence update{correspondence}
                    :preserved update{preserved}
                    :guard-thm update{guard-thm})
            (misc :logic misc$a
                  :exec misc$c
                  :correspondence misc{correspondence})
            (update-misc :logic update-misc$a
                         :exec update-misc$c
                         :correspondence update-misc{correspondence}
                         :preserved update-misc{preserved}))
  :doc nil)

Note that all stobj primitives (recognizer, creator, and exported functions) are defined in the ACL2 loop in terms of their :LOGIC functions and in raw Lisp in terms of their :EXEC functions. In the ACL2 loop, a defun form defines a function, while in raw Lisp, a defmacro form defines a macro (for efficiency). We first illustrate how that works for the recognizer. (You can see all the logical and executable definitions by evaluating the form (trace$ defabsstobj-axiomatic-defs defabsstobj-raw-defs) before evaluating the defstobj form.)

; In the ACL2 loop:
(defun stp (st)
  (declare (xargs :guard 't))
  (st$ap st))

; In raw Lisp:
(defmacro stp (&rest args) (cons 'st$cp args))

The definitions are made similarly for exported functions, with guards derived from their :LOGIC functions as follows. Consider the exported function update in our example. Its :LOGIC function, update$a, has formals (k val st$a) and the following guard.

(and (and (integerp k) (<= 0 k) (<= k 49))
     (and (integerp val) (<= 0 val))
     (st$ap st$a)
     (mem$c-entryp val))
The formals of update are obtained by starting with the formals of its :EXEC function, update-mem$ci -- which are (i v st$c) -- and replacing the concrete stobj name st$c by the new stobj name st. The formals of update are thus (i v st). The guard for update is obtained in two steps. The first step is to substitute the formals of update for the formals of update$a in the guard for update$a, to obtain the following.
(and (and (integerp i) (<= 0 i) (<= i 49))
     (and (integerp v) (<= 0 v))
     (st$ap st)
     (mem$c-entryp v))
The second step is to replace, for each new stobj primitive p, the :LOGIC function for p by p itself. The only :LOGIC function occurring in the formula just above is st$ap, which is the :LOGIC funcction for stp. The guard for update is thus as follows.
(and (and (integerp i) (<= 0 i) (<= i 49))
     (and (integerp v) (<= 0 v))
     (stp st)
     (mem$c-entryp v))

We turn now to the proof obligations, as promised above. There are three types: :CORRESPONDENCE, :PRESERVED, and :GUARD-THM. All required lemmas may be printed simply by defining the necessary :LOGIC and :EXEC functions and then submitting the defabsstobj event. (To advanced users: also see defabsstobj-missing-events for a utility that returns the required formulas in translated form.) Although the defabsstobj event will fail if the required lemmas have not been proved, first it will print the defthm forms that must be admitted in order to complete submission of the defabsstobj event.

The detailed theory explaining the need for these lemmas may be found in a comment in ACL2 source file other-events.lisp, in a comment entitled ``Essay on the Correctness of Abstract Stobjs''. Here, we give an informal sense of the importance of these lemmas as we present examples of them. Fundamental is the notion of evaluation in the logic versus evaluation using live stobjs, where one imagines tracking the current value of each abstract stobj during each of these two evaluations.

We start with the :CORRESPONDENCE lemmas. These guarantee that evaluation in the logic agrees with evaluation using live stobjs, in the sense that the only difference is between a logical stobj and a live stobj, where the two correspond in the sense of the function specified by :CORR-FN. We start with the :CREATOR function where the statement is quite simple, stating that the :CORR-FN holds initially.

(defthm create-st{correspondence}
  (st$corr (create-st$c) (create-st$a)))
For the exported functions, there are essentially two cases. If an exported function returns other than the new abstract stobj, then the theorem asserts the equality of the results of applying the :LOGIC and :EXEC functions for the exported function. Hypotheses include the :CORR-FN correspondence followed by the guard for the :LOGIC function, which is stated in terms of the formal parameters of the :EXEC function except using the abstract stobj (here, st) in place of the concrete stobj (here, st$c). The conclusion uses the :EXEC formals, modified in the call of the :LOGIC function (here, lookup$a) to use the abstract stobj, as in the hypotheses.
(defthm lookup{correspondence}
  (implies (and (st$corr st$c st)
                (integerp i) (<= 0 i) (<= i 49)
                (st$ap st))
           (equal (mem$ci i st$c)
                  (lookup$a i st)))
  :rule-classes nil)
By contrast, if the exported function returns the new abstract stobj, then the conclusion uses the correspondence function insted of EQUAL, as in the following.
(defthm update{correspondence}
  (implies (and (st$corr st$c st)
                (integerp i) (<= 0 i) (<= i 49)
                (integerp v) (<= 0 v)
                (st$ap st)
                (mem$c-entryp v))
           (st$corr (update-mem$ci i v st$c)
                    (update$a i v st)))
  :rule-classes nil)
For exported functions that return multiple values, such conclusions are conjoined together over the returned values.

The :PRESERVED lemmas guarantee that updates to the abstract stobj preserve its recognizer. The fact that every exported function has this property provides justification for an optimization performed by ACL2 during generation of proof obligations for guard verification, by assuming that the recognizer always holds. The :PRESERVED lemma for the :CREATOR shows that the recognizer holds initially.

(defthm create-st{preserved}
  (st$ap (create-st$a)))
Here is a typical such lemma, for the exported function update. Note that there is no such lemma for lookup, since lookup does not return st.
(defthm update{preserved}
  (implies (and (integerp i) (<= 0 i) (<= i 49)
                (integerp v) (<= 0 v)
                (st$ap st)
                (mem$c-entryp v))
           (st$ap (update$a i v st))))

Finally, we consider the :GUARD-THM lemmas. These serve to guarantee that the guard holds for each call of an :EXEC function. During guard verification, logical definitions are used; in particular, since each exported function is defined in the logic as the corresponding call of its :LOGIC function, guard verification shows that each call of the :LOGIC function for an exported function satisfies that function's guard. But why is this true for raw Lisp evaluation using live stobjs, where the :EXEC function is called for an exported function? The :GUARD-THM lemmas provide the answer, as they state that if the :LOGIC function's guard holds, then the :EXEC function's guard holds. Here is an example. Note that the hypotheses come from the correspondence of the concrete and abstract function as guaranteed by the :CORR function, together with the guard of the :LOGIC function; and the conclusion comes from the guard of the :EXEC function.

(defthm lookup{guard-thm}
  (implies (and (st$corr st$c c)
                (integerp i)
                (<= 0 i)
                (<= i 49)
                (st$ap st))
           (and (integerp i)
                (<= 0 i)
                (< i (mem$c-length st$c))))
  :rule-classes nil)

We conclude this EXAMPLE section by showing a short form for the defabsstobj form displayed above.

(defabsstobj st
  :exports ((lookup :exec mem$ci)
            (update :exec update-mem$ci)
            misc update-misc))


The General Form is as shown below, where the order of keywords is unimportant. Duplicate keywords are discouraged; while permitted, only the first (leftmost) occurrence of a given keyword is used. Only the :exports keyword is required.

(defabsstobj st
  :concrete concrete
  :recognizer recognizer
  :creator creator
  :corr-fn corr-fn
  :congruent-to congruent-to
  :protect-default protect-default
  :exports (e1 ... ek)
  :doc doc)
The keyword argument :EXPORTS must be supplied, and missing or nil keyword arguments have defaults as indicated below. All arguments must satisfy the conditions below.

Before we describe the arguments, we define a notion of a ``function spec'' and its ``completion''. A function spec is either a symbol or else a list of the form

(fn :kwd1 val1 ... :kwdn valn),
that is, a symbol followed by a keyword-value-listp. We view the case of a symbol, s, as the function spec (s), with no keywords. There must be no duplicate keywords. In each case that we expect a function spec, the context provides a set of valid keywords for that function spec; it is an error to provide any other keyword in the function spec. Each function spec is interpreted as its ``completion'', obtained by extending the function spec with a default value for each valid keyword as indicated below. With that interpretation, the ``exported function'' of a function spec is its car, and that function symbol and each keyword value must be a guard-verified function symbol; and moreover, the :EXEC function must not include the new abstract stobj name, st, among its formals.

We are ready to describe the arguments of defabsstobj.

St is a symbol, which names the new abstract stobj.

Concrete is the name of an existing stobj that is not an abstract stobj, i.e., was introduced with defstobj (not defabsstobj).

Recognizer is a function spec (for the recognizer function). The valid keywords are :LOGIC and :EXEC. The default for recognizer is obtained by adding the suffix "P" to name. The default value for :LOGIC is formed by adding the suffix "$AP" to recognizer; for :EXEC, by adding the suffix "$CP". The :EXEC function must be the recognizer for the specified :CONCRETE stobj.

Creator is a function spec (for the creator function). The valid keywords are :LOGIC and :EXEC. The default for creator is obtained by adding the prefix "CREATE-" to name. The default value for :LOGIC is formed by adding the suffix "$A" to creator; for :EXEC, by adding the suffix "$C". The :CREATOR function must be the creator for the specified :CONCRETE stobj, as ACL2 checks that the :CREATOR function takes no arguments and returns the :CONCRETE stobj.

Corr-fn is a known function symbol that takes two arguments (for the correspondence theorems). The default for corr-fn is obtained by adding the suffix "$CORR" to name.

Congruent-to should either be nil (the default) or the name of an abstract stobj previously introduced (by defabsstobj). In the latter case, the current and previous abstract stobj should have the same concrete stobj (not merely congruent concrete stobjs), and their :EXPORTS fields should have the same length and also correspond, as follows: the ith export of each should have the same :LOGIC and :EXEC symbols. See defstobj for more about congruent stobjs. Note that if two names are congruent, then they are either both ordinary stobjs or both abstract stobjs.

Protect-default should either be nil (the default) or t. It provides the value of keyword :PROTECT for each member of exports that does not explicitly specify :PROTECT. See the discussion of exports below.

An important aspect of the congruent-to parameter is that if it is not nil, then the checks for lemmas -- {CORRESPONDENCE}, {GUARD-THM}, and {PRESERVED} -- are omitted. Thus, the values of keyword :CORR-FN, and the values of keywords :CORRESPONDENCE, :GUARD-THM, and :PRESERVED in each export (as we discuss next), are irrelevant; they are not inferred and they need not be supplied.

The value of :EXPORTS is a non-empty true list. Each ei is a function spec (for an exported function). The valid keywords are :LOGIC, :EXEC, :CORRESPONDENCE, and :GUARD-THM, :PROTECT, and also :PRESERVED if and only if the specified :EXEC function returns the :CONCRETE stobj. The default values for all of these keywords except :PROTECT are obtained by respectively adding the suffix "$A" "$C", "{CORRESPONDENCE}", "{GUARD-THM}", or "{PRESERVED}". For :PROTECT, the default is nil unless the defabsstobj event specifies :PROTECT-DEFAULT t.

Doc, if non-nil, is a documentation string (see doc-string).

Not shown is the keyword, :MISSING; the effect of :missing t is to turn the call of defabsstobj into a corresponding call of defabsstobj-missing-events.

Note that a defabsstobj event will fail if the required lemmas -- that is, those for valid keywords :CORRESPONDENCE, :GUARD-THM, and :PRESERVED -- have not been proved, unless proofs are being skipped. The exemption when skipping proofs allows the supporting lemmas to be local to books and encapsulate events. If the ld special ld-skip-proofsp is t, then the missing events are printed with a warning before the defabsstobj event is admitted; but if ld-skip-proofsp is the symbol INCLUDE-BOOK, then that warning is omitted. (Also see skip-proofs and see ld-skip-proofsp.) If however proofs are not being skipped, then the defabsstobj event will fail after printing the missing events. Advanced users may wish to see defabsstobj-missing-events for a utility that returns a data structure containing the missing lemmas.

Let st be an abstract stobj with corresponding concrete stobj st$c. let f be an exported function for st and let f$a and f$c be the corresponding :LOGIC and :EXEC functions, respectively. The formals of f are obtained by taking the formals of f$c and replacing st$c by st. The guard for f is derived as follows from the guard of f$a. First, the formals of f$a are replaced by the formals of f in the guard of f$a, to obtain a term we denote here as guard-pre. Now for each exported function symbol g of st with corresponding :LOGIC function g$a, form a functional substitution by consing g$a with g. Finally, apply that functional substitution to guard-pre; the result is the guard of f. That guard must satisfy the usual conditions of a guard: thus, it must return a single non-stobj value and satisfy normal syntactic restrictions, including single-threadedness in its handling of stobjs.

Remark. Because of how guards are created for exported functions, and in particular because :LOGIC functions are replaced as discussed above, a good discipline is to define :LOGIC functions that are not intended for general use, but are intended only for use as :LOGIC functions of corresponding stobj primitives. For example, suppose that you use length as the :LOGIC function for some stobj primitive, f (as opposed to using your own function, say, foo-length or foo$a). Then every call of length will be replaced by f when creating the guard of a stobj primitive from the guard of its :LOGIC function. This might not be what you intended if you were using length in that guard simply to compute the length of an ordinary list.

There are a few additional restrictions, as follows.

All exported function names must be new (unless redefinition is on; see ld-redefinition-action), and there must be no duplicates among them.

The :CONCRETE stobj name must be a formal parameter of the :EXEC fn of every function spec, except for the :CREATOR function spec. Also the input signatures of the :LOGIC and :EXEC function for a function spec must agree, except perhaps at the position of that :CONCRETE formal.

For function specs other than the :CREATOR function spec, the output signatures of the :LOGIC and :EXEC functions must have the same length and must agree, except perhaps at position p_out of the :CONCRETE stobj in the :EXEC function's output. If p_in is the position of the :CONCRETE stobj in the :EXEC function's formals, then the :LOGIC function's output at position p_out should match the :LOGIC function's formal at position p_in.

The :PROTECT keyword is something that you should ignore unless you get an error message about it, pertaining to modifying the concrete stobj non-atomically. In that case, you can eliminate the error by providing :PROTECT t in the function spec, or by providing defabsstobj keyword argument :PROTECT-DEFAULT t at the top level. The above explanation is probably all you need to know about :PROTECT, but just below is a more complete explanation for those who desire it. Further information is also available if you need it; see set-absstobj-debug, and see the example uses of these keywords in community book books/misc/defabsstobj-example-2.lisp.

For those who are interested, here is a more detailed discussion of :PROTECT and :PROTECT-DEFAULT, as promised above. It applies to any function spec for an export (hence not to the :CREATOR function spec). If the :EXEC function is a stobj primitive, then clearly the following property holds: any execution of a call of that function can only update the concrete stobj at most once -- i.e., modification of the concrete stobj is atomic. ACL2 can deduce this property not only for stobj primitives but for many other functions as well. However, if ACL2 cannot deduce this property, then it will cause an error saying that the :EXEC function ``appears capable of modifying the concrete stobj, <stobj_name>, non-atomically.'' That message also explains how to eliminate this error: provide :PROTECT t for the function spec. Alternatively, all function specs without an explicit :PROTECT keyword can be implicitly supplied :PROTECT t by supplying the value t for the :PROTECT-DEFAULT keyword parameter of the defabsstobj event. However, beware that when :PROTECT is t, the generated raw Lisp code runs slightly less efficiently -- though perhaps with negligible efficiency loss if the :EXEC function is not trivial. Community books books/misc/defabsstobj-example-3.lisp and books/misc/defabsstobj-example-4.lisp provide related information.

We conclude with some remarks.

Unlike defstobj, there is no :renaming argument. Instead, the scheme described above provides a flexible way to assign names.

Those who use the experimental extension ACL2(h), which includes function memoization (see memoize), may be aware that the memo table for a function is flushed whenever it is the case that one of its stobj inputs is updated. In fact, such flushing happens even when a stobj that is congruent to one of its stobj inputs is updated. For that purpose, an abstract stobj is considered to be congruent to its corresponding concrete stobj.