The mCRL2 language describes processes with data. The Data Library contains everything that has to do with the data part of the language. The main concepts are sorts and functions working upon these sorts. The meaning of these functions can be described by means of equational axioms. In the __mcrl2_language_reference__ these concepts are explained in more detail.

Data specifications

Data specifications contains the declaration of data types. It contains sorts, sort aliases, constructors, mappings and conditional equations.

A specification can straightforwardly be constructed by declaring the required objects and adding them to a specification. The elements that are added to the specification are not checked.

#include "mcrl2/data/data_specification.h"
#include "mcrl2/data/basic_sort.h"
#include "mcrl2/data/function_symbol.h"
#include "mcrl2/data/variable.h"
#include "mcrl2/data/data_equation.h"

using namespace mcrl2::data;

data_specification spec;
basic_sort D("D");                                          // sort D
function_symbol m("m",D);                                   // map  m:D;
function_symbol c1("c1",D);                                 // cons c1:D;
function_symbol c2("c2",function_sort(D,D));                //      c2:D->D;
variable x("x", D);                                         // var  x:D;
data_application e1(c2,x);
data_equation e(variable_list({x}), sort_bool::true_(), e1, m); // eqn  true -> c1(x)=m;
basic_sort E("E");                                          // sort E=D; (add a sort alias)

For any specification it is possible to retrieve the elements that have been added to the specification as follows:

sorts_const_range s=spec.user_defined_sorts();
constructors_const_range c=spec.user_defined_constructors();
mappings_const_range m=spec.user_defined_mappings();
equations_const_range e=spec.user_defined_equations();
ltr_aliases_mapping a=spec.user_defined_aliases();

If sorts are added to a data specification, automatically certain functions, mappings and in some cases even derived sorts are added to the specification. For every sort D, there functions if then else (if:Bool#D#D->D), equality (==:D#D->Bool), inequality (!=:D#D->Bool) and inequalities (<,<=,>=,>:D#D->Bool) are added. For structured sorts (e.g. sort Tree=struct leaf(Nat) | node(Nat,Nat)) the constructors, projection functions and recognizers are added to the specification. For container sorts (List(D), Set(D) and Bag(D) for arbitrary sort D) all standard functions for these sorts are also added automatically to the specification. The same holds for standard sorts Bool (booleans), Pos (Positive numbers), Nat (Natural numbers), Int (Integers) and Real (Real numbers).

Standards sorts cannot explicitly be added to a specification. In order to indicate that certain sorts must be present in a data specification, these must be added explicitly to the context sorts. The sort Bool is always present in a specification. Sorts that occur in other sorts, constructors and mappings are automatically defined. For instance, if the sort Real and its operations should be made available in a specification, it is sufficient to add Real to the context sorts as follows:


The function context_sorts gives a list of sorts added to the context.

In order to retrieve all sorts, constructors, mappings or equations in a specification (including those that are automatically generated), there are functions listed below. As generally these functions are of interest, instead of their counterparts which only define the user_defined elements, they have the shorter and more natural names.

sorts_const_range s=spec.sorts();
constructors_const_range c=spec.constructors();
mappings_const_range m=spec.mappings();
equations_const_range e=spec.equations();
ltr_aliases_mapping a=spec.aliases();

When adding sort aliases to a specification, the names of sorts are not unique anymore. When declaring in mCRL2

sort Time=Nat;
     E=struct f(E)|g;

the sorts Time and Nat, as well as D and list(Nat) and even E and struct f(E)|g are pairwise equal. In a specification it is not very inefficient to have different names for equal sorts. Therefore the sorts in a specification are made unique. The algorithm that is used maps every structured and container sort for which an alias is introduced to the sort alias at the left hand side. Every sort alias between basic sorts is mapped to the right hand side. In the example above every occurrence of Time is replaced by Nat, and occurrences of list(Nat) and struct f(E)|g are replaced by D and E respectively.

The method sort_alias_map() delivers a mapping from sorts to sorts giving for each sort the unique name. Using the function template <class T> T normalise_sorts(T t) the sorts in each object t can be renamed to their unique representation. If this is not done, objects can be equal except for their types, and this will not be recognized. This is particularly problematic when using the rewriter. Eg. in the following process specification

sort Time=Nat;
map too_late:Time->Bool;
var t:Time;
eqn too_late(t) = t>10;
proc P(u:Time)=too_late(u) ->;
init P(9);

the data specification will normalise the equation too_late(t)= t>10 to such that t has sort Nat as all occurrences of the sort Time are replaced by Nat. When this is not done in process P, the parameter u still has sort Time and too_late(u) will not be rewritten as the sorts do not match. Therefore, it is necessary to apply normalise_sorts to any object used in the context of a specification. If sort aliases are added to a data specification, all sorts in the context of this specification must be renormalised.

There are a few utility functions that help to determine the nature of sorts. The function bool is_certainly_finite(const sort_expression) indicates that a sort has a finite number of elements. This is in general an undecidable property, but in certain cases it can be determined that there are at most a finite number of elements in a sort.

The function bool is_constructor_sort(const sort_expression s) indicates whether there is a constructor with target sort s. If so, the sort is called a constructor sort.


In this section we first introduce the basic structures of sort expressions and data expressions. We then continue to defining the sort expressions with operations that are predefined in the Data Library. The code in the Data Library is inside the namespace =mcrl2::data=.

Sort expressions

Except for the untyped identifiers, all expressions in the Data Library are typed. There are many different kinds of sorts in the mCRL2 language, all of which can be represented in the data library.

Sort expressions
Type Meaning
basic_sort basic sort
function_sort function sort
structured_sort structured sort
container_sort container sort
multiple_possible_sorts expression matching any of multiple sorts
unknown_sort unknown sort expression


multiple_possible_sorts= and =unknown_sort= should not be used after type checking

These sort expressions correspond to the grammar

S ::= Sb | Sc | S x … x S -> S | Sstruct,

where =Sb= is a given set of basic sorts, always including the booleans (sort =Bool=). S x … x S -> S denotes the function sorts, where -> is right associative. =Sc= is the set of container sorts, and Sstruct is the set of structured sorts.

The set of container sorts =Sc= is defined as follows.

Sc ::= List(S) | Set(S) | FSet(S) | Bag(S) | FBag(S)

Where =FSet(S)= and =FBag(S)= represent finite sets and finite bags respectively.

The syntax of structured sorts Sstruct is defined as follows (where p is a string):

Sstruct ::= p(proj*)?p

in which proj has the following syntax:

proj ::= S | p:S

In general, structured sorts have the following form (with =n= a positive number, =ki= a natural number with =1 <= i <= n=):

struct c1(pr1,1:S1,1, ..., pr1,k1:S1,k1)?is_c1 |
       c2(pr2,1:S2,1, ..., pr2,k2:S2,k2)?is_c2 |
       cn(prn,1:Sn,1, ..., prn,kn:Sn,kn)?is_cn;

We refer to =ci= as the constructors of the structured sort. =Si,j= are the sorts of the arguments of the constructors. =pri,j= are names for optional projection functions, retrieving the corresponding argument for a constructor. =is_ci= are the names of optional recognizer functions, returning a boolean value.

As an example of some of the introduced concepts, consider the following code snippet that constructs a structured sort

struct c1(p0:S0, S1)?is_c1 |

The construction of this structured sort is as follows, assuming that also all of the subexpressions still need to be defined:

basic_sort s0("S0");                               /* Name for the sort S0 */
basic_sort s1("S1");                               /* Name for the sort S1 */
structured_sort_constructor_argument p0(s0, "p0"); /* Constructor argument p0: S0 */
structured_sort_constructor_argument p1(s1);       /* Constructor argument S1 */

structured_sort_constructor_argument_vector a1;    /* p0: S0, S1 */
structured_sort_constructor_argument_vector a2;    /* p0 */

structured_sort_constructor c1("c1", a1, "is_c1"); /* c1(p0:S0, S1)?is_c1 */
structured_sort_constructor c2("c2", a2);          /* c2(p0:S0) */

structured_sort_constructor_vector cs;             /* c1(p0:S0, S1)?is_c1 | c2(p0:S0) */

structured_sort s(cs);                             /* struct c1(p0:S0, S1)?is_c1 | c2(p0:S0) */

Data expressions

The class =data_expression= represents expressions like =true=, [^x > 3] and [^forall n:Nat. f(n) < 5]. Each data expression =d= has a type or sort =d.sort()= of type =sort_expression=. Let’s look at a simple example that constructs the numbers two and three, and builds the expression 2 + 3:

#include "mcrl2/data/data.h"
#include "mcrl2/atermpp/aterm_init.h"
#include <cassert>

using namespace mcrl2::data;

int main(int argc, char* argv[])
  MCRL2_ATERMPP_INIT(argc, argv)

  data_expression two   = sort_nat::nat(2);
  data_expression three = sort_nat::nat(3);
  data_expression five  = sort_nat::plus(two, three);

  assert(five.sort() == sort_nat::nat());
  return 0;
Data Expressions
Expression Meaning
data_expression any data expression
function_symbol function symbol
variable variable
abstraction expression with variable binding
lambda lambda abstraction
forall universal quantification
exists existential quantification
where_clause where clause
application function application
identifier untyped identifier (not to be used after type checking)


=identifier= should not be used after type checking, as it entails an untyped sort expression, whereas all libraries and tools in the toolset in general assume fully typed expressions.

An overview of all data expressions in the Data Library is given in the table above. More detailed, data expressions are divided into function symbols, represented by the class =function_symbol=, variables, represented by =variable=, abstractions, represented by the class =abstraction=, where clauses, represented by =where_clause=, and applications of expressions to expressions, represented by =application=. Furthermore, when used in the initial phases of parsing and type checking, the use of untyped identifiers, represented by =identifier= is allowed.

Abstractions provide a mechanism for variable binding. As such, they are further subdivided into lambda abstraction, represented by =lambda=, and universal and existential quantifications, represented by =forall= and =exists= respectively.

More formally, data expressions =e=, with sort expression =S= and variable names =x= correspond to the following grammar:

e ::= x | n | e(e, …, e) | lambda x:S, …, x:S . e |
forall x:S, …, x:S. e | exists x:S, …, x:S. e | e whr x = e, …, x = e end

Here =e(e,…,e)= denotes application of data expressions, =lambda x:S, …, x:S . e= denotes lambda abstraction, =forall x:S, …, x:S . e= and =exists x:S, …, x:S . e= denote universal and existential quantification.

Predefined sorts

The mCRL2 language has a number of predefined sorts, given in the table below:

Predefined sorts
Expression Sort
sort_bool::bool_() booleans
sort_pos::pos() positive numbers
sort_nat::nat() natural numbers
sort_int::int_() integers
sort_real::real() real numbers

Furthermore, a number of container sorts is predefined. Assuming that s is a sort expression, all container sorts are given in the table below:

Container sorts
Expression Type
sort_list::list(s) lists
sort_set::set_(s) sets
sort_fset::fset(s) finite sets
sort_bag::bag(s) bags
sort_fbag::fbag(s) finite bags

Note that the source code for all predefined sorts is generated from specification files.

Operations on data expressions

Default operations

For all sorts, a number of operations is available by default. The corresponding functions can be found in standard.h.

Let =b= be a data expressions of sort =Bool=, and let =x= and =y= be two data expressions with the same sort. Then the following operations are supported:

Operations on all data types
Expression Syntax Meaning
equal_to(x, y) x == y equality
not_equal_to(x, y) x != y inequality
if_(b, x, y) if(b,x,y) conditional expression
less(x,y) x < y less than
less_equal(x,y) x <= y less than or equal to
greater(x,y) x > y greater than
greater_equal(x,y) x >= y greater than or equal to

For the predefined sorts, the most important operations are also available by default.


In all definitions of operations on predefined sorts, elements of which the syntax starts with @ cannot directly be entered by the user when writing an mCRL2 specification. The @ means that the specified operation is implementation specific. Printing such an expression as feedback to the user should be prevented at all times.


All standard operations for the Booleans are available in bool.h, and can be found in the namespace =data::sort_bool=. First of all the two constants =true= and =false= can be constructed.

Constructors for sort Bool
Expression Syntax Meaning
true() true true
false() false false

Furthermore the following functions are available on Booleans (for details about the allowed types also see bool.spec). Let =b= and =c= be Boolean expressions.

Functions for sort Bool
Expression Syntax Meaning
not_(b,c) !b negation
and_(b,c) b && c conjunction
or_(b,c) b || c disjunction
implies(b,c) b => c implication

Positive numbers

All standard operations for positive numbers are available in pos.h, and can be found in the namespace =data::sort_pos=. The positive numbers have two constructors, facilitating an encoding with size logarithmic in the number that is represented. Let =b= be a Boolean expression, and =p= be a positive expression.

Constructors for sort Pos
Expression Syntax Meaning
c1() @1 1
cdub(b,p) @cDub(b,p) 2*p + b

Furthermore the standard operations are available on Positive numbers. Let =b= and =c= be Boolean expressions, and =p=, =q=, and =r= be positive numbers.

Functions for sort Pos
Expression Syntax Meaning
max(p,q) max(p,q) maximum
min(p,q) min(p,q) minimum
abs(p) abs(p) absolute value
succ(p) succ(p) successor
plus(p,q) p+q addition
add_with_carry(b,p,q) @addc(b,p,q) addition with carry (p + q + b)

Natural numbers

All standard operations for natural numbers are available in nat.h, and can be found in the namespace =data::sort_nat=. The natural numbers have two constructors, representing =0= and a positive number interpreted as a natural number.

Let =p= be a positive expression.

Constructors for sort Nat
Expression Syntax Meaning
c0() @0 0
cnat(p) @cNat(p) p interpreted as natural number

Furthermore the standard operations are available on Natural numbers. Let =b= and =c= be Boolean expressions, =p=, =q= be positive numbers, and =n=, =m=, =u=, =v= be natural numbers.

Functions for sort Nat
Expression Syntax Meaning
Pos2Nat(p) Pos2Nat(p) explicit conversion of =p= to sort Nat
Nat2Pos(n) Nat2Pos(n) explicit conversion of =n= to sort Pos
max(p,n) max(p,n) maximum
max(n,p) max(n,p) maximum
max(m,n) max(m,n) maximum
min(m,n) min(m,n) minimum
abs(n) abs(n) absolute value
succ(n) succ(n) successor
pred(n) pred(n) predecessor
dub(b,n) @dub(b,n) ???
plus(p,n) p+n addition
plus(n,p) n+p addition
plus(m,n) m+n addition
gtesubtb(b,p,q) @gtesubtb(b,p,q) substraction with borrow
times(m,n) m*n multiplication
div(m,p) m div p integer division
mod(m,p) m mod p modulus
exp(p,n) p^n exponentiation
exp(m,n) m^n exponentiation
even(n) @even(n) predicate to indicate =n= is even
monus(m,n) @monus(m,n) =(m-n) max 0=
swap_zero(m,n) @swap_zero(m,n) ???
swap_zero_add(m,n,u,v) @swap_zero_add(m,n,u,v) ???
swap_zero_min(m,n,u,v) @swap_zero_min(m,n,u,v) ???
swap_zero_monus(m,n,u,v) @swap_zero_monus(m,n,u,v) ???
swap_zero_lte(m,n,u,v) @swap_zero_lte(m,n,u,v) ???

To facilitate efficient rewriting, also a sort =@NatPair= is available. Code for this is also present in =nat.h=, in namespace =data::sort_nat=.

Let =m=, =n= be expressions of sort Nat.

Constructors for sort @NatPair
Expression Syntax Meaning
cpair(m,n) @cPair(m,n) tuple (m,n)

Also functions for these pairs are available. Let =b= be a Boolean expression, =p=, =q= be positive numbers, and =n=, =m=, =u=, =v= be natural numbers.

Functions for sort @NatPair
Expression Syntax Meaning
first(cpair(m,n)) @first(@cPair(m,n)) projection of first argument
second(cpair(m,n)) @second(@cPair(m,n)) projection of second argument
divmod(p,q) @divmod(p,q) simultaneous division and modulus
gdivmod(pair(m,n), b, p) @gdivmod(@pair(m,n), b, p) generalised simultaneous division and modulus
ggdivmod(m, n, p) @ggdivmod(m ,n, p) doubly generalised simultaneous division and modulus


All standard operations for integers are available in int.h, and can be found in the namespace =data::sort_int=. The integers have two constructors, one interpreting a natural number as integer, and one interpreting a positive number as a negative integer.

Let =p= be a positive expression, and =n= be a natural number.

Constructors for sort Int
Expression Syntax Meaning
cint(n) @cInt(n) =n= interpreted as an integer
cneg(p) @cNeg(p) =p= interpreted as the integer =-p=

Furthermore the standard operations are available on Natural numbers. Let =b= be a Boolean expression, =p=, =q= be positive numbers, =n=, =m= be natural numbers, and =x=, =y= be integers.

Functions for sort Int
Expression Syntax Meaning
Nat2Int(n) Nat2Int(n) explicit conversion of =n= to sort Int
Int2Nat(x) Int2Nat(x) explicit conversion of =x= to sort Nat
Pos2Int(p) Pos2Int(p) explicit conversion of =p= to sort Int
Int2Pos(x) Int2Pos(x) explicit conversion of =x= to sort Pos
max(p,x) max(p,x) maximum
max(x,p) max(x,p) maximum
max(n,x) max(n,x) maximum
max(x,n) max(x,n) maximum
max(x,y) max(x,y) maximum
min(x,y) min(x,y) minimum
abs(x) abs(x) absolute value
negate(p) -p unary minus
negate(n) -n unary minus
negate(x) -x unary minus
succ(x) succ(x) successor
pred(n) pred(n) predecessor
pred(x) pred(x) predecessor
dub(b,x) @dub(b,x) ???
plus(x,y) x+y addition
minus(p,q) p-q subtraction
minus(n,m) n-m subtraction
minus(x,y) x-y subtraction
times(x,y) x*y multiplication
div(x,p) x div p integer division
mod(x,p) x mod p modulus
exp(x,n) x^n exponentiation

Real numbers

All standard operations for real numbers are available in real.h, and can be found in the namespace =data::sort_real=. The real numbers do not have any constructors, because they cannot be finitely enumerated.

Standard functions for real are available however. Let =p=, =q= be positive numbers,=n=, =m= be natural numbers, =x=, =y= be integers, and =r=, =s= be real numbers.

Functions for sort Real
Expression Syntax Meaning
Pos2Real(p) Pos2Real(p) explicit conversion of =p= to sort Real
Nat2Real(n) Nat2Real(n) explicit conversion of =n= to sort Real
Int2Real(x) Int2Real(x) explicit conversion of =x= to sort Real
Real2Pos(r) Real2Pos(r) explicit conversion of =r= to sort Pos
Real2Nat(r) Real2Nat(r) explicit conversion of =r= to sort Nat
Real2Int(r) Real2Int(r) explicit conversion of =r= to sort Int
max(r,s) max(r,s) maximum
min(r,s) min(r,s) minimum
abs(r) abs(r) absolute value
negate(r) -r unary minus
succ(r) succ(r) successor
pred(r) pred(r) predecessor
plus(r,s) r+s addition
minus(r,s) r-s subtraction
times(r,s) r*s multiplication
divides(p,q) p / q division
divides(m,n) m / n division
divides(x,y) x / y division
divides(r,s) r / s division
floor(r) floor(r) floor
ceil(r) ceil(r) ceil
round(r) round(r) round
redfrac(x,y) @redfrac(x,y) reduce fraction x/y w.r.t. lowest common multiple
redfracwhr(p,x,n) @redfracwhr(p,x,n) ???
redfrachlp(r,x) @redfrachlp(r,x) ???


The sorts that are allowed as arguments to the functions for numeric sorts are exactly the ones that correspond to the sorts of the variables in the tables with functions. Note that e.g. sort_real::max(p,q) is also allowed, and the correct result sort of =Pos= will automatically be inferred.


All standard operations for lists are available in list.h, and can be found in the namespace data::sort_list. The lists have two constructors, the empty list ([]), and inserting an element into a list (|>).

Let x be an element of sort S, and l of sort List(S).

Constructors for sort List(S)
Expression Syntax Meaning
nil(S) [] The empty list of sort S
cons(S,x,l) x |> l The list l prefixed with x

Also, the following functions operating on lists are available. Again, let x be an element of sort S, l of sort List(S), and n of sort Nat.

Functions for sort List(S)
Expression Syntax Meaning
in(S,x,l) x in l Test whether =x= is an element of =l=
count(S,l) #l The size of =l=
snoc(S,l,x) l <| x The list =l= suffixed with =x=
element_at(S,l,n) l.n The element at position =n= in =l=
head(S,l) head(l) The first element of =l=
tail(S,l) tail(l) =l= from which the first element has been removed
rhead(S,l) rhead(l) The last element of =l=
rtail(S,l) rtail(l) =l= from which the last element has been removed

Finite sets

The finite sets quite closely resemble lists. For sort =FSet(S)= the following constructors are available, assuming a sort =S=, an element =x= of sort =S=, and =t= being of sort =FSet(S)=.

Constructors for sort FSet(S)
Expression Syntax Meaning
fset_empty(S) @fset_empty() The empty finite set of sort =s=
fset_cons(S,x,t) @fset_cons The finite set =t= extended with =x=

Let =b= be a Boolean, =x= an element of sort =S=, =f=,=g= be functions of sort =S -> Bool=, and =s=,=t= be of sort =FSet(S)=. The operations of finite sets are defined as follows.

Functions for sort FSet(S)
Expression Syntax Meaning
insert(S,x,s) @fsetinsert(x,s) Insert =x= into =s=
cinsert(S,x,b,s) @fsetinsert(x,b,s) ???
in(S,x,s) @fsetin(x,s) Test whether =x= is in =s=
lte(S,f,s,t) @fsetlte(f,s,t) =s= is a subset of =t=
union(S,f,g,s,t) @fsetunion(f,g,s,t) Union of =s= and =t=
intersection(S,f,g,s,t) @fsetinter(f,g,s,t) Intersection of =s= and =t=

Finite bags

Finite bags are defined in a similar vein as finite sets. For sort =FBag(S)= the following constructors are available, assuming a sort =S=, an element =x= of sort =S=, =p= being a positive number, and =b= being of sort =FBag(S)=.

Constructors for sort FSet(S)
Expression Syntax Meaning
fbag_empty(S) @fbag_empty() The empty finite bag of sort =s=
fbag_cons(S,x,p,b) @bag_cons(x,p,b) The finite bag =b=, extended with =p= occurrences of =x=

Let =x= an element of sort =S=, =f=,=g= be functions of sort =S -> Nat=, =t= of sort =FSet(S)=, and =b=,=c= be elements of sort =FBag(S)=. The operations on finite bags are defined as follows.

Functions for sort FSet(S)
Expression Syntax Meaning
fbaginsert(S,x,p,b) @fbag_insert(x,p,b) Insert =p= occurrences of =x= into =b=
fsetcinsert(S,x,n,b) @fbag_cinsert(x,n,b) ???
fbagcount(S,x,b) @fbag_count(x,b) Test count the number of occurrences of =x= in =b=
fbagin(S,x,b) @fbag_in(x,b) Test whether =x= is in =b=
fbaglte(S,f,b,c) @fbag_lte(f,b,c) =b= is a subset of =c=
fbagjoin(S,f,g,b,c) @fbag_join(f,g,b,c) Join of =b= and =c=
fbagintersect(S,f,g,b,c) @fbag_inter(f,g,b,c) Intersection of =b= and =c=
fbagdifference(S,f,g,b,c) @fbag_diff(f,g,b,c) Difference of =b= and =c=
fset2fbag(S,t) @fset2fbag(t) Convert =t= to a finite bag


Like the Real numbers, sets and bags do not have constructors. This means that elements of these sorts are built using functions, as well as their more simple counterparts, the finite sets and bags.

For sets the following functions are available. Let =d=, =e= be of sort Set(S), =x= be of sort =S=, =s= be of sort =FSet(S)=, and =f= and =g= be function of sort =S -> Bool=.

Functions for sort Set(S)
Expression Syntax Meaning
setconstructor(S, f, s) @set(f,s) Construct a set from a function and a finite set
emptyset(S) {} Empty set of sort S
setfset(S, s) @setfset(s) Interpret finite set s as a set
setcomprehension(S, f) @setcomp(f) The set of all elements of sort =S= satisfying =f=
in(S,x,d) x in d Test whether =x= is an element of =d=
setcomplement(S,d) !d Set complement of =d=
setunion_(S,d,e) d + e Union of =d= and =e=
setintersection(S,d,e) d * e Intersection of =d= and =e=
setdifference(S,d,e) d - e Difference of =d= and =e=
false_function(S) @false_ The constant function returning false
true_function(S) @true_ The constant function returning true
false_function(S) @false_ The constant function returning false
not_function(S,f) @not_(f) The function returning =!f(x)= for all elements =x= in =S=
and_function(S,f,g) @and_(f,g) The function returning =f(x) && g(x)= for all elements =x= in =S=
or_function(S,f,g) @or_(f,g) The function returning =f(x) || g(x)= for all elements =x= in =S=

Note that the *_function operations are used as implementation details for representing sets.


For bags the following functions are available. Let =b=, =c= be of sort =FBag(S)=, =e= of sort =S=, =f=,=g=, of sort =S -> Nat=, =h= of sort =S -> Bool=, =s= of sort =FSet(S)=, and =x=,=y= of sort =Bag(S)=.

Functions for sort Bag(S)
Expression Syntax Meaning
bagconstructor(S, f, b) @bag(f,b) Construct a bag from a function and a finite bag
emptybag(S) {} Empty bag of sort S
bagfbag(S, b) @bagfset(b) Interpret finite bag =b= as a bag
bagcomprehension(S, f) @bagcomp(f) The bag of all elements of sort =S= given by =f=
bagcount(S,e,x) count(e,x) The number of occurrences of =e= in =x=
bagin(S,e,x) in(e,x) Determine whether =e= occurs in =x=
bagjoin(S,x,y) x + y Join of =x= and =y=
bagintersect(S,x,y) x * y Intersection of =x= and =y=
bagdifference(S,x,y) x - y Difference of =x= and =y=
bag2set(S,x) Bag2Set(x) Convert bag =x= to a set
set2bag(S,t) Set2Bag(t) Convert set =t= to a bag
zero_function(S) @zero_ The constant function returning =0=
one_function(S) @one_ The constant function returning =1=
add_function(S,f,g) @add_(f,g) The function returning =f(x) + g(x)= for all elements =x= in =S=
min_function(S,f,g) @min_(f,g) The function returning =min(f(x),g(x))= for all elements =x= in =S=
monus_function(S,f,g) @monus_(f,g) The function returning =monus(f(x),g(x))= for all elements =x= in =S=
nat2bool_function(S,f) @Nat2Bool_(f) The function returning false if =f(x)=0=, and true otherwise
bool2nat_function(S,h) @Bool2Nat_(h) The function returning =1= if =f(x)=, =0= otherwise

Note that, like for sets, the *_function operations are used as implementation details for representing bags.

Creating data expressions

Data expressions can be created in two ways: directly using constructors, or using a parser.

Constructing data expressions directly can be quite tedious:

basic_sort X("X");
basic_sort Y("Y");
basic_sort Z("Z");
sort_expression XYZ = function_sort(function_sort(X, Y), Z);
variable x("x", XYZ);

variable three("3", sort_pos::pos());
variable zero("0", sort_nat::nat());

For convenience a function parse_data_expression is available. This function takes a variable declaration as optional second argument, that can be used to specify unbound variables that appear in the expression. An example of this is:

#include "mcrl2/data/parse.h"
#include "mcrl2/data/pos.h"
#include "mcrl2/data/nat.h"

int main(int argc, char* argv[])
  // two ways to create the expression m + n
  std::string var_decl = "m, n: Pos;\n";
  data_expression d1 = parse_data_expression("m+n", var_decl);

  variable m = parse_data_expression("m", var_decl);
  variable n = parse_data_expression("n", var_decl);
  data_expression d2 = sort_pos::plus(m, n);

  return 0;

Sort aliases and sort normalisation

Sort aliases are used to give an alternative name to a sort or a sort expression. Typical examples are (expressed in MCRL2):

sort Time=Nat;
     Tree=struct leaf(Nat) | node(Tree,Tree);

Sort aliases are used to give alternative names or shorthands for existing sorts. Moreover, they allow to define recursive structured sorts. Note that at the left of a sort alias there is a basic_sort, and at the right there is a sort_expression.

An alias is declared as follows:

#include "mcrl2/data/alias.h"
#include "mcrl2/data/container_sort.h"

using namespace mcrl2::data;

void alias_demo()
  basic_sort b("sort_id");
  container_sort c(bag,sort_nat::sort_nat());

  alias a(b,c);

  std::cout << "Alias name: " << << " Alias rhs: " << pp(a.reference()) << "\n";

An important consequence of the use of aliases is that different sort expressions can denote the same sort. In the example above, Time and Nat denote the same sort. So, the variables x:Time and x:Nat are the same object. It is time consuming to continuously calculate whether sorts are the same, which is undesirable if it comes to verification. Therefore, we require that all sorts in expressions that are equal modulo sort aliases are represented by a unique sort expression. This process is called sort normalisation. Note that sort normalisation is dependent on a particular specification; the sorts in one expression can be normalised differently for two different data specifications.

More concretely, for a sort alias

sort A=B;

sort A and B are equal. Sort normalisation will rewrite each sort B to A, except if B is a Bool, Pos, Nat, Int or Real. In case there are more aliases referring to the same sort, as in the example below there are more options for the unique sort.

sort A1=List(B);

In this case either A1, or A2 is chosen as the representation for List(B).

Sort normalisation takes place automatically inside a data specification. Functions, sorts, equations, etc. that are added using for instance add_equation are automatically normalised. Aliases that are added are also automatically applied to all elements in the data type. If the elements of a data type are requested, e.g. the sorts, constructors, mappings and equations of a data type, then these are provided with normalised sorts. The functions user_defined_aliases, user_defined_sorts, etc. are provided to extract the aliases, sorts, mappings, constructors and equations in exactly the form they were added to the specification using the add_…. functions.

However, objects outside the data specification are not automatically normalised. These must be normalized explicitly. Normalisation functions, normalise_sort, exist for all types that derive from terms, such as data_expressions, assignments, sort_expressions, data_equations, etc., as well as for lists of these types.

#include mcrl2/data/data_specification.h
#include "mcrl2/data/alias.h"
#include "mcrl2/data/function_symbol.h"

using namespace mcrl2::data;

void normalise_sort_demo()
  data_specification spec;
  const basic_sort a("A");
  const basic_sort b("B");

  const function_symbol f("f",b));

  // An example of normalising a function symbol explicitly.
  std::cout << "Not normalised: " << pp(f) << " has sort " << pp(f.sort()) << "\n";
  const function_symbol normalised_f=spec.normalise(f);
  std::cout << "Normalised: " << pp(normalised_f) << " has sort " << pp(normalised_f.sort()) << "\n";


  // Get the mapping and the sorts, which are normalised. So, f:A is replaced by f:B.
  mappings_const_range m=mappings();
  for(function_symbol::const_iterator i=m.begin(); i!=m.end(); ++i)
  { std::cout << "Function symbol " << pp(*i) << " has sort " << pp(i->sort()) << "\n";

Given a particular sort, it is sometimes useful to find the sort it represents. E.g. suppose that sort F is defined by F=A->B. Then from sort F alone it cannot be seen that F is actually a function sort. The function unalias yields the structure of an alias. So, in this particular case data_spec.unalias(F) yields A->B. As aliases may be recursive, as in sort E=struct nil | insert(Nat,E), unalias will only unfold an alias until it cannot be unfolded further, or until a type with a type constructing operator occurs.

Data rewriters

A rewriter is a function that rewrites terms using a number of rewrite rules. In the mCRL2 toolset a class =data::rewriter= is available that operates on data expressions, and that is initialized using a data specification. The equations of the data specification are interpreted as rewrite rules from left to right. An example is given below.

// rewrite two data expressions, and check if they are the same
rewriter r;
data_expression d1 = parse_data_expression("2+7");
data_expression d2 = parse_data_expression("4+5");
assert(d1 != d2);
assert(r(d1) == r(d2));


Rewriters can be used to determine equivalence between data expressions. In general this problem is undecidable. Only if [^r(d1) == r(d2)] one can conclude that the expressions =d1= and =d2= are equivalent, otherwise the answer is unknown.

For efficiency reasons a rewriter can be invoked with an optional substitution function __sigma as a second argument, where __sigma maps data variables to data expressions. The function __sigma must satisfy the property that for all data variables =v=

__sigma(v) == r(__sigma(v)).

Under this condition the following property holds:

r(d,__sigma) == r(__sigma(d)).

Note that in general the computation of [^r(d,__sigma)] can be done more efficiently than the computation of [^r(__sigma(d))]. In the mCRL2 toolset substition functions are used that take constant time.

An example of rewriting with a substitution function is given below.

rewriter r;

// Create a substitution sequence sigma with two substitutions: [m:=3, n:=4]
std::string var_decl = "m, n: Pos;\n";
mutable_map_substitution sigma;
sigma[parse_data_expression("m", var_decl)] = r(parse_data_expression("3"));
sigma[parse_data_expression("n", var_decl)] = r(parse_data_expression("4"));

data::data_expression d1 = parse_data_expression("m+n", var_decl);
data::data_expression d2 = parse_data_expression("7");
assert(r(d1, sigma) == r(d2));


The current implementation of rewriting with substitutions to data variables is inefficient. The interface of the underlying =Rewriter= class needs to be adapted to get rid of these inefficiencies.

Rewriter Concept

In the mCRL2 toolset a =Rewriter= is a concept with the following requirements:

Associated types
Expression Meaning
Rewriter::term_type the type of the terms on which the rewriter operates
Rewriter::variable_type the type of the variables

A =SubstitutionFunction= is a function that maps variables to terms. Let =sigma= be a substitution function, and let =v= be an expression of type =Rewriter::variable_type=.

Expression semantics for SubstitutionFunction
Expression Result
sigma(v) Returns an expression of type =Rewriter::term_type=

Let =r= be a =Rewriter=, let =d= be an expression of type =Rewriter::term_type= and let =sigma= be a =SubstitutionFunction=.

Expression semantics for Rewriter
Expression Result
r(d) Returns an expression of type Rewriter::term_type that is the result of applying the rewriter r to term d
r(d, sigma) Returns an expression of type Rewriter::term_type that is the result of applying the rewriter r to term , while on the fly applying the substitution function sigma to all data variables in d.

Algorithms using a rewriter

Algorithms that use a rewriter are typically implemented with a template parameter for the rewriter. An example of this is the constelm algorithm of the LPS library:

template <typename Rewriter>
specification constelm(const specification& spec, Rewriter r, bool verbose = false)

The algorithm may only assume that the requirements of the Rewriter Concept hold, with proper choices for the nested variable and term types.

Data enumerator

Documentation not yet available