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Target is a library for testing Haskell functions based on refinement type specifications.

Getting Started

First things first, get Target from Hackage

$ cabal install target

You'll also need a recent version of Z3 or CVC4.

Testing with Target

To get acquainted with refinement types and Target, let's examine a small grading library called Scores.

First Steps

We'll need to import two modules from Target. Test.Target exports the main testing API, and Test.Target.Targetable exports the Targetable type-class, which represents types for which we can generate constrained values. We'll need the latter module for one of the later examples when we define our own datatype.

module Scores where

import Test.Target
import Test.Target.Targetable

Refinement Types

A refinement type decorates the basic Haskell types with logical predicates drawn from an efficiently decidable theory. For example,

{[email protected] type Nat   = {v:Int | 0 <= v} @-}
{[email protected] type Pos   = {v:Int | 0 <  v} @-}
{[email protected] type Rng N = {v:Int | 0 <= v && v < N} @-}

are refinement types describing the set of integers that are non-negative, strictly positive, and in the interval [0, N) respectively. We will also build up function and collection types over base refinement types like the above.

Base Types

Let's write a function rescale that takes a source range [0,r1), a target range [0,r2), and a score n from the source range, and returns the linearly scaled score in the target range.

For example, rescale 5 100 2 should return 40. Here's a first attempt at rescale

{[email protected] rescale :: r1:Nat -> r2:Nat -> s:Rng r1 -> Rng r2 @-}
rescale r1 r2 s = s * (r2 `div` r1)

Let's load our code into GHCi and test it!

ghci> :set -XTemplateHaskell
ghci> :l Scores.hs
ghci> target rescale 'rescale "Scores.hs"

The main function Target exports is target

target :: Testable f => f -> TH.Name -> FilePath -> IO ()

which drives the entire testing process. It also provides targetWith to customize some of the options, and targetResult which returns the test outcome instead of printing it.

(Since the refinement type specifications are given in special comments, we use Template Haskell to give target the exact name of the function we want to test. Unfortunately we can't extract the path to the module from the Template Haskell name, so we have to provide it separately..)

Unfortunately, target quickly responds with

Found counter-example: (1, 0, 0)

Indeed, rescale 1 0 0 results in 0 which is not in the target Rng 0, as the latter is empty! We could fix this in various ways, e.g. by requiring the ranges are non-empty:

{[email protected] rescale :: r1:Pos -> r2:Pos -> s:Rng r1 -> Rng r2 @-}

Now, Target accepts the function and reports

ghci> target rescale 'rescale "Scores.hs"
OK. Passed all tests.

Using the refinement type specification for rescale, Target systematically tests the implementation by generating all valid inputs up to a given depth bound (defaulting to 5) that respect the pre-conditions, running the function, and checking that the output satisfies the post-condition.


Suppose we have normalized all scores to be out of 100

{[email protected] type Score = Rng 100 @-}

Now we'll write a function to compute a weighted average of a list of scores.

{[email protected] average :: [(Int, Score)] -> Score @-}
average []  = 0
average wxs = total `div` n
    total   = sum [w * x | (w, x) <- wxs ]
    n       = sum [w     | (w, _) <- wxs ]

It can be tricky to verify this function as it requires non-linear reasoning about an unbounded collection. However, we can gain a great degree of confidence by systematically testing it using the type specification; indeed, Target responds:

ghci> target average 'average "Scores.hs"
Found counter-example: [(0,0)]

Clearly, an unfortunate choice of weights can trigger a divide-by-zero; we can fix this by requiring the weights be non-zero:

{[email protected] average :: [({v:Int | v /= 0}, Score)] -> Score @-}

but now Target responds with

ghci> target average 'average "Scores.hs"
Found counter-example: [(-3,3),(3,0)]

which also triggers the divide-by-zero! Let's play it safe and require positive weights,

{[email protected] average :: [(Pos, Score)] -> Score @-}

at which point Target reports that all tests pass.

Ordered Containers

The very nature of our business requires that at the end of the day, we order students by their scores. We can represent ordered lists by requiring the elements of the tail t to be greater than the head h:

{[email protected] data OrdList a
      = ONil
      | OCons {h :: a, t :: OrdList {v:a | h <= v}}

Target can only test functions that operate on Targetable types, so we'll also need to make OrdList Targetable. We could write our own instance, but they turn out to be quite mechanical, so instead we'll use GHC.Generics to derive an instance automatically.

data OrdList a = ONil | OCons a (OrdList a)
  deriving Generic

instance Targetable a => Targetable (OrdList a)

We can now write a function to insert a score into an ordered list:

{[email protected] insert :: (Ord a) => a -> OrdList a -> OrdList a @-}

Target automatically generates all ordered lists (up to a given depth) and executes insert to check for any errors.

Structured Containers

Everyone has a few bad days. Let us write a function that takes the best k scores for a particular student. That is, the output must satisfy a structural constraint -- that its size equals k. We can encode the size of a list with a logical measure function:

{[email protected] measure len :: [a] -> Int
    len []      = 0
    len (x:xs)  = 1 + len xs

Now, we can stipulate that the output indeed has k scores:

{[email protected] best :: k:Nat -> [Score] -> {v:[Score] | k = len v} @-}
best k xs = take k $ reverse $ sort xs

Now, Target quickly finds a counterexample:

ghci> target best 'best "Scores.hs"
Found counter-example: (2,[])

Of course -- we need to have at least k scores to start with!

{[email protected] best :: k:Nat -> {v:[Score] | k <= len v}
         -> {v:[Score] | k = len v}

and now, Target is assuaged and reports no counterexamples.

Note that we don't have to write a custom Targetable instance to generate lists of a specific length, the standard one suffices!

Higher-order Functions

Perhaps instead of taking the k best grades, we would like to pad each individual grade, and, furthermore, we want to be able to experiment with different padding functions. Let's rewrite average to take a functional argument, and stipulate that it can only increase a Score.

{[email protected] padAverage :: (s:Score -> {v:Score | s <= v}) -> [(Pos, Score)] -> Score @-}
padAverage f []  = f 0
padAverage f wxs = total `div` n
    total   = sum [w * f x | (w, x) <- wxs ]
    n       = sum [w       | (w, _) <- wxs ]

Target automatically checks that padAverage is a safe generalization of average. Randomized testing tools can also generate functions, but those functions are unlikely to satisfy non-trivial constraints, thereby burdening the user with custom generators.

Moving On

You can specify a lot of interesting properties with refinement types and we've only scratched the surface here. Check out the LiquidHaskell blog for more examples; Target uses the same specification language as LiquidHaskell so the examples should all be testable.