A Decidable Class of Nested Iterated Schemata (extended version)

Many problems can be specified by patterns of propositional formulae depending on a parameter, e.g. the specification of a circuit usually depends on the number of bits of its input. We define a logic whose formulae, called "iterated schemata", allow to express such patterns. Schemata extend propositional logic with indexed propositions, e.g. P_i, P_i+1, P_1, and with generalized connectives, e.g. /ı=1..n or i=1..n (called "iterations") where n is an (unbound) integer variable called a "parameter". The expressive power of iterated schemata is strictly greater than propositional logic: it is even out of the scope of first-order logic. We define a proof procedure, called DPLL*, that can prove that a schema is satisfiable for at least one value of its parameter, in the spirit of the DPLL procedure. However the converse problem, i.e. proving that a schema is unsatisfiable for every value of the parameter, is undecidable so DPLL* does not terminate in general. Still, we prove that it terminates for schemata of a syntactic subclass called "regularly nested". This is the first non trivial class for which DPLL* is proved to terminate. Furthermore the class of regularly nested schemata is the first decidable class to allow nesting of iterations, i.e. to allow schemata of the form /ı=1..n (/ȷ=1..n ...).

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