nLab cubical type theory



Type theory

natural deduction metalanguage, practical foundations

  1. type formation rule
  2. term introduction rule
  3. term elimination rule
  4. computation rule

type theory (dependent, intensional, observational type theory, homotopy type theory)

syntax object language

computational trinitarianism =
propositions as types +programs as proofs +relation type theory/category theory

logiccategory theorytype theory
trueterminal object/(-2)-truncated objecth-level 0-type/unit type
falseinitial objectempty type
proposition(-1)-truncated objecth-proposition, mere proposition
proofgeneralized elementprogram
cut rulecomposition of classifying morphisms / pullback of display mapssubstitution
cut elimination for implicationcounit for hom-tensor adjunctionbeta reduction
introduction rule for implicationunit for hom-tensor adjunctioneta conversion
logical conjunctionproductproduct type
disjunctioncoproduct ((-1)-truncation of)sum type (bracket type of)
implicationinternal homfunction type
negationinternal hom into initial objectfunction type into empty type
universal quantificationdependent productdependent product type
existential quantificationdependent sum ((-1)-truncation of)dependent sum type (bracket type of)
equivalencepath space objectidentity type/path type
equivalence classquotientquotient type
inductioncolimitinductive type, W-type, M-type
higher inductionhigher colimithigher inductive type
-0-truncated higher colimitquotient inductive type
coinductionlimitcoinductive type
presettype without identity types
completely presented setdiscrete object/0-truncated objecth-level 2-type/set/h-set
setinternal 0-groupoidBishop set/setoid
universeobject classifiertype of types
modalityclosure operator, (idempotent) monadmodal type theory, monad (in computer science)
linear logic(symmetric, closed) monoidal categorylinear type theory/quantum computation
proof netstring diagramquantum circuit
(absence of) contraction rule(absence of) diagonalno-cloning theorem
synthetic mathematicsdomain specific embedded programming language

homotopy levels




Cubical type theory is a version of homotopy type theory in which univalence is not just an axiom but a theorem, hence, since this is constructive, has “computational content”. Cubical type theory models the infinity-groupoid-structure implied by Martin-Löf identity types on constructive cubical sets, whence the name.

The first constructive account of the univalence axiom was given in (Coquand 13, Bezem-Coquand-Huber 17), called the “BCH-model”.

The BCH model, unfortunately, has some problems that appear to make it unsuitable for general HoTT. In particular, it is not known how to model higher inductive types. The problem is that the BCH model is based on presheaves on the ‘symmetric monoidal cube category’, which is basically the free PROP generated by an interval. In particular, the base category’s maps are generated by face maps and permutative renamings of dimension variables (this is where the ‘symmetric monoidal’ part comes in). For somewhat technical reasons, this doesn’t work out when you want to define the elimination rules for higher inductive types (like for the circle).

To account for HITs, you seem to need diagonals in the base category. There is more than one choice in addition as to what other morphisms to add.

Both models validate univalence (like the BCH model) and can be used to model a variety of HITs as well as supporting a syntactic type theory based on ‘dimension variables’. However, while it is possible to interpret the Martin-Löf identity type in all of these models, it is only equivalent to, not definitionally isomorphic to, the native cubical path-types in the model. Thus, the latter support the Martin-Lof eliminator, but only with a typal computation rule.


Cubical type theory can be modeled in a number of varieties of cubical sets, for example in a type-theoretic model structure.


Introductory lecture notes:

Exposition in view of synthetic homotopy theory:

  • Anders Mörtberg, Loïc Pujet, Cubical synthetic homotopy theory, CPP 2020: Proceedings of the 9th ACM SIGPLAN International Conference on Certified Programs and Proofs January 2020, pp. 158–171, doi:10.1145/3372885.3373825, (pdf)

Original articles on the BCH model:

On the CCHM model and type theory:

On the cartesian cubical model and type theory:

On comparing the models:

Discussion of implementation in the proof assistant Cubical Agda:

On normalization for cubical type theory:

Last revised on June 20, 2022 at 18:00:41. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.