MathOverflow is a question and answer site for professional mathematicians. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top


I'm not sure if I should ask here or over at, but I think here it's a bit more fitting. This question stems from a homework problem:


Given some class of formulas $Q$ we call a cardinal $\kappa$ $Q$-weakly indescribable if for every $Q$-sentence $\phi$ and $R\subset\kappa$, $\langle\kappa,\in,R\rangle\models\phi$ implies that there is some $\alpha<\kappa$ such that $\langle\alpha,\in,R\cap\alpha\rangle\models\phi$.


The exercise asks to show that $\kappa$ is $\Pi_0^1$-weakly indescribable exactly when it is regular. One part (namely that a regular cardinal is $\Pi_0^1$-weakly indescribable) is easy, but I am unsure about the other direction. If we had $R\subset\kappa\times\kappa$ then it would be fairly easy to "code" the singularity of $\kappa$ into $R$, but I don't see how to do this when $R$ is a subset of $\kappa$. Of course, we have that $\kappa$ can be mapped injectively onto $\kappa\times\kappa$ but -at least to the best of my knowledge- that would require some form of inductive definition, which on principle uses functions, objects that do not exist when our universe is $\langle\kappa,\in,R\rangle$.

After giving it a lot of thought, I actually checked a paper by Levy ("The size of the indescribable cardinals") in which he uses binary predicates, and I also tried to find an old paper by Hanf and Scott ("Classifying inaccessible cardinals") but it turns out that the library threw away most of the Notices of AMS volumes when they moved to a smaller building.

So my question is:

Can we somehow define the bijection inside $\langle\kappa,\in,R\rangle$, or on? And if not is there some other way to prove this?


Disclosure: Even though this is formally homework, we are allowed to use that $R\subseteq\kappa\times\kappa$. Hence this is more of a personal question that arose from the fact that I got stuck on this for a long time.

share|cite|improve this question
Yes, check out pg. 30 in Jech, "Set Theory." There's a section on "The Canonical Well-Ordering of $\alpha \times \alpha$." – Amit Kumar Gupta Oct 10 '11 at 3:09
@Amit: Jech defines the well ordering of $(\kappa,\kappa)$ as "the order type of $\{(\alpha,\beta):(\alpha,\beta)<(\kappa,\kappa)\}$". My problem is how to define this when our universe is κ. Jech says that two well orders have the same order type when they are isomorphic. How could you say this when you don't have functions? I'm beginning to feel that I'm missing something obvious here. :( – Apostolos Oct 10 '11 at 5:43
Hmm, let me think about this. When I've seen "indescribability," I usually see the universe $V_\kappa$ being used, not $\kappa$. – Amit Kumar Gupta Oct 10 '11 at 8:01

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.