Coq is an interactive theorem prover first released in 1989. It allows for expressing mathematical assertions, mechanically checks proofs of these assertions, helps find formal proofs, and extracts a certified program from the constructive proof of its formal specification. Coq works within the theory of the calculus of inductive constructions, a derivative of the calculus of constructions. Coq is not an automated theorem prover but includes automatic theorem proving tactics (procedures) and various decision procedures.
The Association for Computing Machinery awarded Thierry Coquand, Gérard Huet, Christine Paulin-Mohring, Bruno Barras, Jean-Christophe Filliâtre, Hugo Herbelin, Chetan Murthy, Yves Bertot, and Pierre Castéran with the 2013 ACM Software System Award for Coq.
Coq is a wordplay on the name of Thierry Coquand, Calculus of Constructions or "CoC" and is following the French tradition to name tools after animals (coq in French meaning rooster).
When viewed as a programming language, Coq implements a dependently typed functional programming language; when viewed as a logical system, it implements a higher-order type theory. The development of Coq has been supported since 1984 by INRIA, now in collaboration with École Polytechnique, University of Paris-Sud, Paris Diderot University, and CNRS. In the 1990s, ENS Lyon was also part of the project. The development of Coq was initiated by Gérard Huet and Thierry Coquand, and more than 40 people, mainly researchers, have contributed features to the core system since its inception. The implementation team has successively been coordinated by Gérard Huet, Christine Paulin-Mohring, Hugo Herbelin, and Matthieu Sozeau. Coq is mainly implemented in OCaml with a bit of C. The core system can be extended by way of a plug-in mechanism.
The name coq means "rooster" in French and stems from a French tradition of naming research development tools after animals. Up until 1991, Coquand was implementing a language called the Calculus of Constructions and it was simply called CoC at this time. In 1991, a new implementation based on the extended Calculus of Inductive Constructions was started and the name was changed from CoC to Coq in an indirect reference to Coquand, who developed the Calculus of Constructions along with Gérard Huet and contributed to the Calculus of Inductive Constructions with Christine Paulin-Mohring.
Coq provides a specification language called Gallina ("hen" in Latin, Spanish, Italian and Catalan). Programs written in Gallina have the weak normalization property, implying that they always terminate. This is a distinctive property of the language, since infinite loops (non-terminating programs) are common in other programming languages, and is one way to avoid the halting problem.
Georges Gonthier of Microsoft Research in Cambridge, England and Benjamin Werner of INRIA used Coq to create a surveyable proof of the four color theorem, which was completed in 2002. Their work led to the development of the SSReflect ("Small Scale Reflection") package, which was a significant extension to Coq. Despite its name, most of the features added to Coq by SSReflect are general-purpose features and are not limited to the computational reflection style of proof. These features include: