Decision Procedures for Multisets with Cardinality Constraints

Applications in software verification and interactive theorem proving often involve reasoning about sets of objects. Cardinality constraints on such collections also arise in these applications. Multisets arise in these applications for analogous reasons as sets: abstracting the content of linked data structure with duplicate elements leads to multisets. Interactive theorem provers such as Isabelle specify theories of multisets and prove a number of theorems about them to enable their use in interactive verification. However, the decidability and complexity of constraints on multisets is much less understood than for constraints on sets. The first contribution of this paper is a polynomial-space algorithm for deciding expressive quantifier-free constraints on multisets with cardinality operators. Our decision procedure reduces in polynomial time constraints on multisets to constraints in an extension of quantifier-free Presburger arithmetic with certain ``unbounded sum'' expressions. We prove bounds on solutions of resulting constraints and describe a polynomial-space decision procedure for these constraints. The second contribution of this paper is a proof that adding quantifiers to a constraint language containing subset and cardinality operators yields undecidable constraints. The result follows by reduction from Hilbert's 10th problem.

Related material