Fin Type Family

We briefly saw the Fin type family when constructing trees. We clarify and elaborate on its construction.

The Fin type family is indexed by natural numbers $\mathbb{N}$. For $n : \mathbb{N}$, $Fin(n)$ is a finite type with $n$ elements, corresponding to the integers $k$ with $0 \leq k < n$. We denote by $[k]_n$ the element corresponding to the natural number $k$ in $Fin(n)$. Note that $[1]_2$ and $[1]_3$ are not the same term even though they correspond to the same natural number.

We define $Fin$ as an inductive type family with two constructors. In Agda, this is as follows.

The constructors are similar to the $zero$ and $succ$ constructors for natural numbers. However, as remarked earlier, $[0]_2$ and $[0]_3$ are not the same term, so the constructor $fzero$ takes an argument specifying the type of the term constructed. Since $Fin(0)$ does not have a term corresponding to $0$, but $Fin(k)$ does for $k \geq 1$, we set $fzero(n) = [0]_{n +1}$. Formally, as usual, we only specify the type of $fzero$ and declare it to be a constructor.

The second constructor $fsucc$ takes $[k]_n$ to $[ k + 1]_{n +1}$. On the associated natural numbers, this is just the successor function. However it maps the type $Fin(n)$ to the type $Fin(n+1)$ - as one should expect since, given $0 \leq k < n$, we need not have $k + 1 <n$, but always have $0 \leq k+1 \leq n +1$.

Note that if $0\leq k <n$, then there is unique way to obtain $[k]_n$ using the given constructors, namely (using powers to denote iterated application) $[k]_n = fsucc^k (fzero (n -k -1))$.

By a recursive definition, we can define the function $[k]_n \mapsto k$.