# Zulip Chat Archive

## Stream: new members

### Topic: Defining recursive sequences

#### Ben Nale (Jun 16 2020 at 21:30):

Hi. I need help defining sequences in Lean like a_n = n *a_{n-1} and a_1=1. How do I do this?

And for future references, where do I learn such things on my own. Like, for instance how do I see how the successor function (natural numbers) is defined?

#### Jalex Stark (Jun 16 2020 at 21:33):

Have you looked at a tutorial? maybe #mil or the natural number game?

#### Dan Stanescu (Jun 16 2020 at 21:33):

Section 7.4 here for the natural numbers

https://leanprover.github.io/theorem_proving_in_lean/inductive_types.html

#### Ben Nale (Jun 16 2020 at 21:34):

Jalex Stark said:

Have you looked at a tutorial? maybe #mil or the natural number game?

I finished the natural number game. And also couldn't find it in the tutorial :/

#### Ben Nale (Jun 16 2020 at 21:34):

Dan Stanescu said:

Section 7.4 here for the natural numbers

https://leanprover.github.io/theorem_proving_in_lean/inductive_types.html

Thank you

#### Kevin Buzzard (Jun 16 2020 at 21:37):

You can make this definition using the equation compiler. Maybe chapter 8 of #tpil ?

#### Jalex Stark (Jun 16 2020 at 21:38):

https://leanprover.github.io/reference/declarations.html#the-equation-compiler

```
def fib : ℕ → ℕ
| 0 := 1
| 1 := 1
| (n+2) := fib (n+1) + fib n
```

#### Bryan Gin-ge Chen (Jun 16 2020 at 21:38):

To answer your original question, a sequence of natural numbers is just a function from natural numbers to the natural numbers. Chapter 8 of "Theorem Proving in Lean" will explain how to write recursive definitions by pattern matching, e.g.:

```
def a : ℕ → ℕ
| 0 := 0 -- junk value
| 1 := 1 -- base case
| (n+1) := (n + 1) * a n
#eval a 40
```

#### Ben Nale (Jun 16 2020 at 21:39):

Nice! Thanks

#### Ethan (Jul 04 2020 at 02:14):

Is there any intuition for the difference between:

```
def fib : ℕ → ℕ
| 0 := 1
| 1 := 1
| (n+2) := fib (n+1) + fib n
```

and

```
def fib2 : ℕ → ℕ := λ n, match n with
| 0 := 1
| 1 := 1
| (n+2) := fib2 (n+1) + fib2 n
end
```

fib works, but fib2 is not in scope.

#### Mario Carneiro (Jul 04 2020 at 02:15):

You can't define recursive functions using a regular definition, you have to use the equation compiler form (like `fib`

)

#### Mario Carneiro (Jul 04 2020 at 02:15):

If you write `def foo : type := ...`

then `foo`

is not in scope in `...`

#### Mario Carneiro (Jul 04 2020 at 02:16):

but with `def foo : type | case := ...`

then `foo`

is in scope (although it is fake), and the equation compiler figures out how to turn it into a definition using recursors

#### Pedro Minicz (Jul 04 2020 at 03:15):

Mario Carneiro said:

You can't define recursive functions using a regular definition, you have to use the equation compiler form (like

`fib`

)

"Equation compiler form" is rather suggestive, but I will ask anyways: why is that so? What does it facilitate not permitting `fib2`

?

#### Bryan Gin-ge Chen (Jul 04 2020 at 03:35):

The "equation compiler" is a part of Lean's elaborator that is able to generate certain types of recursive functions automatically from some special "pattern-matching" syntax. Match expressions also use pattern-matching syntax, but just don't have access to the equation compiler. The equation compiler / pattern-matching syntax is discussed in most of chapter 8 of #tpil and match expressions are discussed in 8.8.

#### Bryan Gin-ge Chen (Jul 04 2020 at 03:36):

Oh, I see that I already mentioned that chapter of TPIL a few times above. Apologies if you already read it. Maybe I misunderstood your question?

Last updated: May 14 2021 at 22:15 UTC