Sequences

Sequences are a built-in Dafny type representing an ordered list. They can be used to represent many ordered collections, including lists, queues, stacks, etc. Sequences are an immutable value type: they cannot be modified once they are created. In this sense, they are similar to strings in languages like Java and Python, except they can be sequences of arbitrary types, rather than only characters. Sequence types are written:

   seq<int>

for a sequence of integers, for example. For example, this function takes a sequence as a parameter:

predicate sorted(s: seq<int>)
{
   forall i,j :: 0 <= i < j < |s| ==> s[i] <= s[j]
}

The length of a sequence is written |s|, as in the above quantifier. Specific elements of a sequence are accessed using the same square bracket syntax as arrays. Note also that the function does not require a reads clause to access the sequence. That is because sequences are not stored on the heap; they are values, so functions don’t need to declare when they are accessing them. The most powerful property of sequences is the fact that annotations and functions can create and manipulate them. For example, another way of expressing sorted-ness is recursive: if the first element is smaller than the rest, and the rest is sorted, then the whole array is sorted:

predicate sorted2(s: seq<int>)
{
   0 < |s| ==> (forall i :: 0 < i < |s| ==> s[0] <= s[i]) &&
               sorted2(s[1..])
}

The notation s[1..] is slicing the sequence. It means starting at the first element, take elements until you reach the end. This does not modify s, as sequences are immutable. Rather, it creates a new sequence which has all the same elements in the same order, except for the first one. This is similar to addition of integers in that the original values are not changed, just new ones created. The slice notation is:

   s[i..j]

where 0 <= i <= j <= |s|. Dafny will enforce these index bounds. The resulting sequence will have exactly j-i elements, and will start with the element s[i] and continue sequentially through the sequence, if the result is non-empty. This means that the element at index j is excluded from the slice, which mirrors the same half-open interval used for regular indexing.

Sequences can also be constructed from their elements, using display notation:

   var s := [1, 2, 3];

Here we have a integer sequence variable in some imperative code containing the elements 1,2, and 3. Type inference has been used here to get the fact that the sequence is one of integers. This notation allows us to construct empty sequences and singleton sequences:

   [] // the empty sequence, which can be a sequence of any type
   [true] // a singleton sequence of type seq<bool>

Slice notation and display notation can be used to check properties of sequences:

method m()
{
   var s := [1, 2, 3, 4, 5];
   assert s[|s|-1] == 5; //access the last element
   assert s[|s|-1..|s|] == [5]; //slice just the last element, as a singleton
   assert s[1..] == [2, 3, 4, 5]; // everything but the first
   assert s[..|s|-1] == [1, 2, 3, 4]; // everything but the last
   assert s == s[0..] == s[..|s|] == s[0..|s|]; // the whole sequence
}
   var s := [1, 2, 3, 4, 5];
   assert s[|s|-1] == 5; //access the last element
   assert s[|s|-1..|s|] == [5]; //slice just the last element, as a singleton
   assert s[1..] == [2, 3, 4, 5]; // everything but the first
   assert s[..|s|-1] == [1, 2, 3, 4]; // everything but the last
   assert s == s[0..] == s[..|s|] == s[0..|s|] == s[..]; // the whole sequence

By far the most common operations on sequences are getting the first and last elements, and getting everything but the first and last elements, as these are often used in recursive functions, such as sorted2 above. In addition to being deconstructed by being accessed or sliced, sequences can also be concatenated, using the plus (+) symbol:

method m()
{
   var s := [1, 2, 3, 4, 5];
   assert [1,2,3] == [1] + [2,3];
   assert s == s + [];
   assert forall i :: 0 <= i <= |s| ==> s == s[..i] + s[i..];
}
   assert [1,2,3] == [1] + [2,3];
   assert s == s + [];
   assert forall i :: 0 <= i <= |s| ==> s == s[..i] + s[i..];

The second assertion gives a relationship between concatenation and slicing. Because the slicing operation is exclusive on one side and inclusive on the other, the element appears in the concatenation exactly once, as it should. Note that the concatenation operation is associative:

method m()
{
   assert forall a: seq<int>, b: seq<int>, c: seq<int> ::
      (a + b) + c == a + (b + c);
}
   assert forall a: seq<int>, b: seq<int>, c: seq<int> ::
      (a + b) + c == a + (b + c);

but that the Z3 theorem prover will not realize this unless it is prompted with an assertion stating that fact (see Lemmas/Induction for more information on why this is necessary).

Sequences also support the in and !in operators, which test for containment within a sequence:

method m()
{
   var s := [1, 2, 3, 4, 5];
   assert 5 in s;
   assert 0 !in s;
}
   assert 5 in s; // using s from before
   assert 0 !in s;

This also allows us an alternate means of quantifying over the elements of a sequence, when we don’t care about the index. For example, we can require that a sequence only contains elements which are indices into the sequence:

method m()
{
   var p := [2,3,1,0];
   assert forall i :: i in p ==> 0 <= i < |s|;
}
   var p := [2,3,1,0];
   assert forall i :: i in p ==> 0 <= i < |s|;

This is a property of each individual element of the sequence. If we wanted to relate multiple elements to each other, we would need to quantify over the indices, as in the first example.

Sometimes we would like to emulate the updatable nature of arrays using sequences. While we can’t change the original sequence, we can create a new sequence with the same elements everywhere except for the updated element:

method m()
{
   var s := [1,2,3,4];
   assert s[2 := 6] == [1,2,6,4];
}
   s[i := v] // replace index i by v in seq s

Of course, the index i has to be an index into the array. This syntax is just a shortcut for an operation that can be done with regular slicing and access operations. Can you fill in the code below that does this?

function update(s: seq<int>, i: int, v: int): seq<int>
   requires 0 <= index < |s|
   ensures update(s, i, v) == s[i := v]
{
   s[..i] + [v] + s[i+1..]
   // This works by concatenating everything that doesn't
   // change with the singleton of the new value.
}
function update(s: seq<int>, i: int, v: int): seq<int>
   requires 0 <= index < |s|
   ensures update(s, i, v) == s[i := v]
{
   // open in the editor to see the answer.
}

You can also form a sequence from the elements of an array. This is done using the same “slice” notation as above:

method m()
{
   var a := new int[3]; // 3 element array of ints
   a[0], a[1], a[2] := 0, 3, -1;
   var s := a[..];
   assert s == [0, 3, -1];
}
   var a := new int[3]; // 3 element array of ints
   a[0], a[1], a[2] := 0, 3, -1;
   var s := a[..];
   assert s == [0, 3, -1];

To get just part of the array, the bounds can be given just like in a regular slicing operation:

method m()
{
   var a := new int[3]; // 3 element array of ints
   a[0], a[1], a[2] := 0, 3, -1;
   assert a[1..] == [3, -1];
   assert a[..1] == [0];
   assert a[1..2] == [3];
}
   assert a[1..] == [3, -1];
   assert a[..1] == [0];
   assert a[1..2] == [3];

Because sequences support in and !in, this operation gives us an easy way to express the “element not in array” property, turning:

forall k :: 0 <= k < a.Length ==> elem != a[k]

into:

elem !in a[..]

Further, bounds are easily included:

forall k :: 0 <= k < i ==> elem != a[k]

is the same as

elem !in a[..i]