Lesson 1.6: Integers and Booleans

The purpose of this lesson is to explain the two most basic types of builtin sorts in K, the Int sort and the Bool sort, representing arbitrary-precision integers and Boolean algebra.

Builtin sorts in K

K provides definitions of some useful sorts in domains.md, found in the include/kframework/builtin directory of the K installation. This file is defined via a Literate programming style that we will discuss in a future lesson. We will not cover all of the sorts found there immediately, however, this lesson discusses some of the details surrounding integers and Booleans, as well as providing information about how to look up more detailed knowledge about builtin functions in K's documentation.

Booleans in K

The most basic builtin sort K provides is the Bool sort, representing Boolean values (i.e., true and false). You have already seen how we were able to create this type ourselves using K's parsing and disambiguation features. However, in the vast majority of cases, we prefer instead to import the version of Boolean algebra defined by K itself. Most simply, you can do this by importing the module BOOL in your definition. For example (lesson-06-a.k):

module LESSON-06-A
  imports BOOL

  syntax Fruit ::= Blueberry() | Banana()
  syntax Bool ::= isBlue(Fruit) [function]

  rule isBlue(Blueberry()) => true
  rule isBlue(Banana()) => false

Here we have defined a simple predicate, i.e., a function returning a Boolean value. We are now able to perform the usual Boolean operations of and, or, and not over these values. For example (lesson-06-b.k):"

module LESSON-06-B
  imports BOOL

  syntax Fruit ::= Blueberry() | Banana()
  syntax Bool ::= isBlue(Fruit) [function]

  rule isBlue(Blueberry()) => true
  rule isBlue(Banana()) => false

  syntax Bool ::= isYellow(Fruit) [function]
                | isBlueOrYellow(Fruit) [function]

  rule isYellow(Banana()) => true
  rule isYellow(Blueberry()) => false

  rule isBlueOrYellow(F) => isBlue(F) orBool isYellow(F)

In the above example, Boolean inclusive or is performed via the orBool function, which is defined in the BOOL module. As a matter of convention, many functions over builtin sorts in K are suffixed with the name of the primary sort over which those functions are defined. This happens so that the syntax of K does not (generally) conflict with the syntax of any other programming language, which would make it harder to define that programming language in K.


Write a function isBlueAndNotYellow which computes the appropriate Boolean expression. If you are unsure what the appropriate syntax is to use, you can refer to the BOOL module in domains.md. Add a term of sort Fruit for which isBlue and isYellow both return true, and test that the isBlueAndNotYellow function behaves as expected on all three Fruits.

Syntax Modules

For most sorts in domains.md, K defines more than one module that can be imported by users. For example, for the Bool sort, K defines the BOOL module that has previously already been discussed, but also provides the BOOL-SYNTAX module. This module, unlike the BOOL module, only declares the values true and false, but not any of the functions that operate over the Bool sort. The rationale is that you may want to import this module into the main syntax module of your definition in some cases, whereas you generally do not want to do this with the version of the module that includes all the functions over the Bool sort. For example, if you were defining the semantics of C++, you might import BOOL-SYNTAX into the syntax module of your definition, because true and false are part of the grammar of C++, but you would only import the BOOL module into the main semantics module, because C++ defines its own syntax for and, or, and not that is different from the syntax defined in the BOOL module.

Here, for example, is how we might redefine our Boolean expression calculator to use the Bool sort while maintaining an idiomatic structure of modules and imports, for the first time including the rules to calculate the values of expressions themselves (lesson-06-c.k):

  imports BOOL-SYNTAX

  syntax Bool ::= "(" Bool ")" [bracket]
                > "!" Bool [function]
                > left:
                  Bool "&&" Bool [function]
                | Bool "^" Bool [function]
                | Bool "||" Bool [function]

module LESSON-06-C
  imports LESSON-06-C-SYNTAX
  imports BOOL

  rule ! B => notBool B
  rule A && B => A andBool B
  rule A ^ B => A xorBool B
  rule A || B => A orBool B

Note the encapsulation of syntax: the LESSON-06-C-SYNTAX module contains exactly the syntax of our Boolean expressions, and no more, whereas any other syntax needed to implement those functions is in the LESSON-06-C module instead.


Add an "implies" function to the above Boolean expression calculator, using the -> symbol to represent implication. You can look up K's builtin "implies" function in the BOOL module in domains.md.

Integers in K

Unlike most programming languages, where the most basic integer type is a fixed-precision integer type, the most commonly used integer sort in K is the Int sort, which represents the mathematical integers, ie, arbitrary-precision integers.

K provides three main modules for import when using the Int sort. The first, containing all the syntax of integers as well as all of the functions over integers, is the INT module. The second, which provides just the syntax of integer literals themselves, is the INT-SYNTAX module. However, unlike most builtin sorts in K, K also provides a third module for the Int sort: the UNSIGNED-INT-SYNTAX module. This module provides only the syntax of non-negative integers, i.e., natural numbers. The reasons for this involve lexical ambiguity. Generally speaking, in most programming languages, -1 is not a literal, but instead a literal to which the unary negation operator is applied. K thus provides this module to ease in specifying the syntax of such languages.

For detailed information about the functions available over the Int sort, refer to domains.md. Note again how we append Int to the end of most of the integer operations to ensure they do not collide with the syntax of other programming languages.


  1. Extend your solution from lesson 1.4, problem 2 to implement the rules that define the behavior of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Do not worry about the case when the user tries to divide by zero at this time. Use /Int to implement division. Test your new calculator implementation by executing the arithmetic expressions you wrote as part of lesson 1.3, problem 2. Check to make sure each computes the value you expected.

  2. Combine the Boolean expression calculator from this lesson with your solution to problem 1, and then extend the combined calculator with the <, <=, >, >=, ==, and != expressions. Write some Boolean expressions that combine integer and Boolean operations, and test to ensure that these expressions return the expected truth value.

  3. Compute the following expressions using your solution from problem 2: 7 / 3, 7 / -3, -7 / 3, -7 / -3. Then replace the /Int function in your definition with divInt instead, and observe how the value of the above expressions changes. Why does this occur?

Next lesson

Once you have completed the above exercises, you can continue to Lesson 1.7: Side Conditions and Rule Priority.