# Proofs' role in Coq extractions

Though what chi said is correct, in this case you can actually extract the witness p from the existence proof. When you have a boolean predicate P : nat -> bool, if exists p, P p = true, you can compute some p that satisfies the predicate by running the following function from 0:

find p := if P p then p else find (S p)


You cannot write this function directly in Coq, but it is possible to do so by crafting a special inductive proposition. This pattern is implemented in the choice module of the mathematical components library:

From mathcomp Require Import ssreflect ssrfun ssrbool ssrnat eqtype choice.

(* == is the boolean equality test *)
Definition even n := exists p, (n == 2 * p) = true.

Definition div_2_even_number n (nP : even n) : {p | (n == 2 * p) = true} :=
Sub (xchoose nP) (xchooseP nP).


The xchoose : (exists n, P n = true) -> nat function performs the above search, and xchooseP shows that the its result satisfies the boolean predicate. (The actual types are more general than this, but when instantiated to nat they yield this signature.) I have used the boolean equality operator to simplify the code, but it would have been possible to use = instead.

That being said, if you care about running your code, programming in this fashion is terribly inefficient: you need to perform n / 2 nat comparisons to test divide n. It is much better to write a simply typed version of the division function:

Fixpoint div2 n :=
match n with
| 0 | 1 => 0
| S (S n) => S (div2 n)
end.


You are working with types in different sorts.

> Check (Nat.Even 8).
Nat.Even 8
: Prop

> Check {p:nat | 8=p+p}.
{p : nat | 8 = p + p}
: Set


A feature of the Coq type system is that you can not eliminate a value whose type is in Prop to obtain something whose type is not in Prop (roughly -- some exception is done by Coq for Prop types which carry no information, like True and False, but we are not in that case). Roughly put you can not use a proof of a proposition for anything but to prove another proposition.

This limitation is unfortunately required to allow Prop to be impredicative (we want forall P: Prop, P->P to be a type in sort Prop) and to be consistent with the law of excluded middle. We can not have everything or we meet Berardi's paradox.