first-order and higher-order logic, model theory, set theory, proof theory, computability theory, formal languages, definability, interplay of syntax and semantics, constructive logic, intuitionism, philosophical logic, modal logic, completeness, Gödel incompleteness, decidability, undecidability, ...

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Similarities between Post's Problem and Cohen's Forcing

Remark: I have since learned that G.H. Moore addresses this question in the third reference listed at the end of this post, beginning on p. 157 in which he cites a letter from Kreisel to Gödel dated 4/...
127
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15answers
24k views

Why worry about the axiom of choice?

As I understand it, it has been proven that the axiom of choice is independent of the other axioms of set theory. Yet I still see people fuss about whether or not theorem X depends on it, and I don't ...
8
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1answer
405 views

Reference for Wang Tile

I am working on projects in solving ground state of generalized ising models. One recent work involves tiling with basic tiles that filled the whole lattice. For example, we could obtain results: ...
55
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2answers
16k views

Is the analysis as taught in universities in fact the analysis of definable numbers?

Ten years ago when I studied in the university I had no idea about definable numbers, but I came to this concept myself. My thoughts were as follows: All numbers are divided into two classes: those ...
37
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7answers
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Arguments against large cardinals

I started to learn about large cardinals a while ago, and I read that the existence, and even the consistency of the existence of an inaccessible cardinal, i.e. a limit cardinal which is additionally ...
36
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6answers
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Is the non-triviality of the algebraic dual of an infinite-dimensional vector space equivalent to the axiom of choice?

If $V$ is given to be a vector space that is not finite-dimensional, it doesn't seem to be possible to exhibit an explicit non-zero linear functional on $V$ without further information about $V$. The ...
14
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2answers
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Does ZFC prove the universe is linearly orderable?

It is consistent with ZFC that the universe is well-ordered, e.g. in $V=L$ where global choice holds. I also know that it is consistent that global choice fails (although I have no immediate example ...
84
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2answers
7k views

Does every non-empty set admit a group structure (in ZF)?

It is easy to see that in ZFC, any non-empty set $S$ admits a group structure: for finite $S$ identify $S$ with a cyclic group, and for infinite $S$, the set of finite subsets of $S$ with the binary ...
20
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3answers
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Who needs Replacement anyway?

The set theory ETCS famously comes without the Replacement axiom schema (or an equivalent) that is part of ZFC. One (to me, not apparently useful) set that one cannot build in ETCS is $\coprod_{n\in \...
29
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0answers
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Concerning the various proofs from the axiom of choice that R^3 admits of surprising geometrical decompositions into circles, skew lines and so on: can we prove in any instance that there are no Borel such decompositions? Or that AC is required?

This question follows up on a comment I made on Joseph O'Rourke's recent question, one of several questions here on mathoverflow concerning surprising geometric partitions of space using the axiom of ...
13
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3answers
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Pi1-sentence independent of ZF, ZF+Con(ZF), ZF+Con(ZF)+Con(ZF+Con(ZF)), etc.?

Let ZF1 = ZF, ZFk+1 = ZF + the assumption that ZF1,...,ZFk are consistent, ZFω = ZF + the assumption that ZFk is consistent for every positive integer k, ... and similarly define ZFα ...
12
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1answer
986 views

finite dimensional real division algebras

A celebrated theorem of Milnor and Kervaire asserts that any finite dimensional division algebra over the real numbers has dimension 1,2,4 or 8. This result is established using methods from algebraic ...
93
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42answers
21k views

What are the most attractive Turing undecidable problems in mathematics?

What are the most attractive Turing undecidable problems in mathematics? There are thousands of examples, so please post here only the most attractive, best examples. Some examples already appear on ...
91
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9answers
14k views

Solutions to the Continuum Hypothesis

Related MO questions: What is the general opinion on the Generalized Continuum Hypothesis? ; Completion of ZFC ; Complete resolutions of GCH; How far wrong could the Continuum Hypothesis be?; When was ...
46
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14answers
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What is the high-concept explanation on why real numbers are useful in number theory?

The utopian situation in mathematics would be that the statement and the proof of every result would live "in the same world", at the same level of mathematical complexity (in a broad sense), unless ...
50
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5answers
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Decidability of chess on an infinite board

The recent question Do there exist chess positions that require exponentially many moves to reach? of Tim Chow reminds me of a problem I have been interested in. Is chess with finitely many men on an ...
42
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5answers
4k views

Is the Riemann Hypothesis equivalent to a $\Pi_1$ sentence?

1) Can the Riemann Hypothesis (RH) be expressed as a $\Pi_1$ sentence? More formally, 2) Is there a $\Pi_1$ sentence which is provably equivalent to RH in PA? Update (July 2010): So we have ...
22
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3answers
2k views

Is the statement that every field has an algebraic closure known to be equivalent to the ultrafilter lemma?

The existence and uniqueness of algebraic closures is generally proven using Zorn's lemma. A quick Google search leads to a 1992 paper of Banaschewski, which I don't have access to, asserting that ...
20
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2answers
3k views

Large cardinal axioms and Grothendieck universes

A cardinal $\lambda$ is weakly inaccessible, iff a. it is regular (i.e. a set of cardinality $\lambda$ can't be represented as a union of sets of cardinality $<\lambda$ indexed by a set of ...
10
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5answers
2k views

Interesting meta-meta-mathematical theorems?

The Goedel incompleteness theorems can be considered meta-mathematical theorems, as they are "written" in a meta-theory and "talk" about properties of a class of formal theories. The following may be ...
14
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5answers
3k views

Hahn-Banach without Choice

The standard proof of the Hahn-Banach theorem makes use of Zorn's lemma. I hear that, however, Hahn-Banach is strictly weaker than Choice. A quick search leads to many sources stating that Hahn-Banach ...
23
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5answers
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Are the two meanings of “undecidable” related?

I am usually confused by questions of the type "could such and such a problem be undecidable", because as far as I know there are two distinct possible meanings of "undecidable". I regard the ...
19
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7answers
1k views

Does every set admit a rigid binary relation? (and how is this related to the Axiom of Choice?)

Let us say that a set B admits a rigid binary relation, if there is a binary relation R such that the structure (B,R) has no nontrivial automorphisms. Under the Axiom of Choice, every set is well-...
20
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2answers
910 views

If ZFC has a transitive model, does it have one of arbitrary size?

It is known that the consistency strength of $\sf ZFC+\rm Con(\sf ZFC)$ is greater than that of $\sf ZFC$ itself, but still weaker than asserting that $\sf ZFC$ has a transitive model. Let us denote ...
17
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1answer
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Gödel's Constructible Universe in Infinitary Logics (A Possible Approach to HOD Problem)

Gödel's constructible universe ($L$) is defined using definable power set operator in first order logic ($\mathcal{L}_{\omega ,\omega}$). One can produce such a universe in infinitary logics in ...
12
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1answer
343 views

What metatheory proves $\mathsf{ACA}_0$ conservative over PA?

Simpson's book shows $\mathsf{ACA}_0$ is conservative over $\mathsf{PA}$ in the natural way by model theory using definable subsets. Of course, $\mathsf{ACA}_0$ being conservative over PA is ...
7
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2answers
754 views

Can formal logic give a precise notion of “canonical”?

Coming off of this discussion, I'm wondering what the term "canonical" really means. In that thread, many suggested category theory as a way to formalize the concept of what "canonical" means, using ...
6
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2answers
699 views

Is there one binary operation foundational for set theory?

The membership relationship "$\epsilon$" is foundational for set theory, in the sense that the axioms of any set theory are formulated in the language of "$\epsilon$". Naturally, the question arises ...
4
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1answer
379 views

Can the Burgess-Hazen analysis of Predicative Arithmetic be extended to Transfinite Types?

Around page 300 of his book "Mathematical Thought and its Objects", Charles Parsons discusses the work of Edward Nelson, who believes that mathematical induction is impredicative, because it can be ...
5
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1answer
239 views

Computational approach deciding whether a set of Wang Tile could tile the space up to some size

As an applied person, I'm facing one practical problem deciding whether a set of Wang tile could tile the plane periodically or aperiodically. Although both problems seem undecidable, but I'm on a ...
3
votes
5answers
1k views

Defining 'free monoid' without Nat?

Is there a definition of what is a 'free monoid' which does not pre-suppose that the natural numbers has already been defined? The definitions that I have been able to track down all use the natural ...
2
votes
1answer
163 views

Does $|(X\times\{0\}) \cup (X\times\{1\})| \leq |X|$ for $X$ infinite imply ${\sf AC}$?

Consider the statement For any infinite set $X$ there is an injection $\varphi$ from $(X\times\{0\}) \cup (X\times\{1\})$ into $X$. Does this imply the ${\sf AC}$?
2
votes
1answer
505 views

Compactness and completeness in Gödel logic

The standard proof of the completeness theorem in first-order Gödel logic is based on a first-order countable language. I want to know that is there any proof of the completeness theorem in ...
156
votes
27answers
19k views

What are some reasonable-sounding statements that are independent of ZFC?

Every now and then, somebody will tell me about a question. When I start thinking about it, they say, "actually, it's undecidable in ZFC." For example, suppose A is an abelian group such that every ...
59
votes
16answers
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Most 'unintuitive' application of the Axiom of Choice?

It is well-known that the axiom of choice is equivalent to many other assumptions, such as the well-ordering principle, Tychonoff's theorem, and the fact that every vector space has a basis. Even ...
65
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16answers
6k views

When are two proofs of the same theorem really different proofs

Many well-known theorems have lots of "different" proofs. Often new proofs of a theorem arise surprisingly from other branches of mathematics than the theorem itself. When are two proofs really the ...
57
votes
2answers
5k views

How would you solve this tantalizing Halmos problem?

$1-ab$ invertible $\implies$ $1-ba$ invertible has a slick power series "proof" as below, where Halmos asks for an explanation of why this tantalizing derivation succeeds. Do you know one? ...
42
votes
15answers
6k views

Abstract Thought vs Calculation

Jeremy Avigad and Erich Reck in their remarkable historical paper "Clarifying the nature of the infinite: the development of metamathematics and proof theory" claim that one of the factors of becoming ...
82
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11answers
9k views

Checkmate in $\omega$ moves?

Is there a chess position with a finite number of pieces on the infinite chess board $\mathbb{Z}^2$ such that White to move has a forced win, but Black can stave off mate for at least $n$ moves for ...
60
votes
6answers
14k views

How many orders of infinity are there?

Define a growth function to be a monotone increasing function $F: {\bf N} \to {\bf N}$, thus for instance $n \mapsto n^2$, $n \mapsto 2^n$, $n \mapsto 2^{2^n}$ are examples of growth functions. Let's ...
59
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4answers
8k views

Nelson's program to show inconsistency of ZF

At the end of the paper Division by three by Peter G. Doyle and John H. Conway, the authors say: Not that we believe there really are any such things as infinite sets, or that the Zermelo-Fraenkel ...
41
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2answers
5k views

A question about ordinal definable real numbers

If ZFC (Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory with the Axiom of Choice) is consistent, does it remain consistent when the following statement is added to it as a new axiom? "There exists a denumerably ...
40
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7answers
2k views

How would one even begin to try to prove that a simple number-theoretic statement is undecidable?

This question is closely related to this one: Knuth's intuition that Goldbach might be unprovable. It stems from my ignorance about non-standard models of arithmetic. In a comment on the other ...
27
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8answers
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Arithmetic fixed point theorem

I want to understand the idea of the proof of the artihmetic fixed point theorem. The theorem is crucial in the proof of Gödel's first Incompletness theorem. First some notation: We work in $NT$, the ...
29
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6answers
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A remark of Connes

In an interview (at http://www.alainconnes.org/docs/Inteng.pdf) Connes remarks that I had been working on non-standard analysis, but after a while I had found a catch in the theory.... The point ...
31
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3answers
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Why do stacked quantifiers in PA correspond to ordinals up to $\epsilon_0$?

I am trying to understand why induction up to exactly $\epsilon_0$ is necessary to prove the cut-elimination theorem for first-order Peano Arithmetic; or, as I understand, equivalently, why the length ...
28
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9answers
3k views

How many groups of size at most n are there? What is the asymptotic growth rate? And what of rings, fields, graphs, partial orders, etc.?

Question. How many (isomorphism types of) finite groups of size at most n are there? What is the asymptotic growth rate? And the same question for rings, fields, graphs, partial orders, etc. ...
14
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12answers
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Excellent uses of induction and recursion

Can you make an example of a great proof by induction or construction by recursion? Given that you already have your own idea of what "great" means, here it can also be taken to mean that the chosen ...
21
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3answers
2k views

Is there a computable model of ZFC?

Background Assuming ZFC is consistent, then by downward Löwenheim–Skolem, there is a countable model (M,$\in$) of ZFC. Since the universe M is countable, we may as well think of it as actually being ...
12
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10answers
4k views

Is PA consistent? do we know it?

1) (By Goedel's) One can not prove, in PA, a formula that can be interpreted to express the consistency of PA. (Hopefully I said it right. Specialists correct me, please). 2) There are proofs (...