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In Enderton's "Mathematical Introduction to Logic" (2ed p.88), $\Gamma\models\phi$ is defined to mean that for every model $M$ and every assignment $s$ such that $M\models\Gamma[s]$, $M\models \phi[s]$.

By contrast, in Bilaniuk's "Problem Course in Mathematical Logic" definition 6.6 on p.38, $\Gamma\models\phi$ is defined to mean that for every model $M$ such that $M\models\Gamma$, $M\models\phi$. Here, $M\models \Gamma$ means $M\models \gamma[s]$ for every assignment $s$ and every $\gamma\in\Gamma$, similarly for $M\models \phi$.

$\Gamma\models\phi$ in symbols:

  • Enderton: $\forall M \forall s (M\models \Gamma[s]\rightarrow M\models\phi[s])$
  • Bilaniuk: $\forall M ((\forall s M\models \Gamma[s])\rightarrow (\forall s M\models\phi[s]))$

According to the former, $\lbrace x=y\rbrace\not\models\forall x\forall y (x=y)$. According to the latter, $\lbrace x=y\rbrace\models\forall x\forall y(x=y)$.

What do the logicians here at Math Overflow think about this conundrum?

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closed as not a real question by Andrés Caicedo, Ryan Budney, Andreas Blass, Simon Thomas, Noah Snyder Jul 29 '11 at 18:56

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In every field there are common symbols that are used for different purposes by different authors. Why should this be a conundrum? – Ryan Budney Jul 29 '11 at 7:13
You're absolutely right of course. It does raise some interesting questions for logicians though. The Completeness Theorem says x=y implies forall x forall y x=y iff x=y proves forall x forall y x=y. If the completeness theorem is true according to both authors' texts, it necessarily means the things which are formally provable are different. Best I can tell, this hinges on whether or not the Rule of Generalization is allowed: from phi, deduce forall x phi. (But to sour things, Bilaniuk does NOT include this rule. Plot hole?) – Sam Alexander Jul 29 '11 at 7:28
@Sam: The completeness theorem is usually formulated so that it only applies to provability from a set of sentences, in which case the distinction disappears. In any case, in your particular example, $\forall x\forall y\,x=y$ is provable by itself without any assumptions. – Emil Jeřábek Jul 29 '11 at 10:15
(There must have been mist over my eyes or something. Of course, $\forall x\forall y\,x=y$ is not provable, $\forall x\,x=x$ is.) – Emil Jeřábek Jul 29 '11 at 17:35

2 Answers 2

I prefer Enderton's definition, but either definition will work if used consistently. The only way to get a "conundrum" is to mix the two. This is not the only place in mathematics where reasonable people have proposed different definitions for the same notation or terminology and where problems would arise if one were to try to use both definitions at the same time.

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I learned Bilaniuk's definition, in particular I learned that the truth of a formula is unchanged by universal closure. How wide-spread is Enderton's definition? – GH from MO Jul 29 '11 at 7:24

In my experience, Enderton’s definition is far more prevalent. Certainly in categorical logic and the areas of proof theory I’m familiar with, it’s almost always what’s intended.

On the other hand, $\Gamma \vDash \varphi$ is most often used when $\Gamma$ is some theory, i.e. a set of closed formulas, in which case they are equivalent. The difference appears only when $\Gamma$ and $\varphi$ share free variables.

Bilaniuk’s definition (universally closing the two sides separately) is certainly coherent in itself. But Enderton’s definition (universally closing over the whole relation) has various nice properties which Bilaniuk’s lacks:

  • It corresponds more closely to the “provability” relation $\Gamma \vdash \varphi$. (This is the biggest one!)
  • The deduction lemma: $\Gamma \vDash \varphi \Rightarrow \psi$ if and only if $\Gamma \cup \{\varphi\} \vDash \psi$.
  • More general. Any instance of Bilaniuk’s is trivially equivalent to one of Enderton’s (by renaming variables on the right to be disjoint from those on the left).
  • More intuitive. If I read $\varphi(x,y) \vDash \psi(x,y)$, then it seems natural to expect that the $x$ on the left corresponds somehow to the $x$ on the right, and likewise the $y$. Under Bilaniuk’s reading, the shared variable names are just a red herring.

These are somewhat subjective, of course; I’m sure someone who prefers Bilaniuk’s definition could give some good counter-points.

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