Proof theory is a major branchof mathematical logic that represents proofs as formal mathematical objects, facilitating their analysis by mathematical techniques. Proofs are typically presented as inductively-defined data structures such as plain lists, boxed lists, or trees, which are constructed according to the axioms and rules of inference of the logical system. As such, proof theory is syntactic in nature, in contrast to model theory, which is semantic in nature.
Some of the major areas of proof theory include structural proof theory, ordinal analysis, provability logic, reverse mathematics, proof mining, automated theorem proving, and proof complexity. Much research also focuses on applications in computer science, linguistics, and philosophy.
Although the formalisation of logic was much advanced by the work of such figures as Gottlob Frege, Giuseppe Peano, Bertrand Russell, and Richard Dedekind, the story of modern proof theory is often seen as being established by David Hilbert, who initiated what is called Hilbert's program in the Foundations of Mathematics. The central idea of this program was that if we could give finitary proofs of consistency for all the sophisticated formal theories needed by mathematicians, then we could ground these theories by means of a metamathematical argument, which shows that all of their purely universal assertions (more technically their provable sentences) are finitarily true; once so grounded we do not care about the non-finitary meaning of their existential theorems, regarding these as pseudo-meaningful stipulations of the existence of ideal entities.
The failure of the program was induced by Kurt Gödel's incompleteness theorems, which showed that any ω-consistent theory that is sufficiently strong to express certain simple arithmetic truths, cannot prove its own consistency, which on Gödel's formulation is a sentence. However, modified versions of Hilbert's program emerged and research has been carried out on related topics. This has led, in particular, to:
In parallel to the rise and fall of Hilbert's program, the foundations of structural proof theory were being founded. Jan Łukasiewicz suggested in 1926 that one could improve on Hilbert systems as a basis for the axiomatic presentation of logic if one allowed the drawing of conclusions from assumptions in the inference rules of the logic. In response to this, Stanisław Jaśkowski (1929) and Gerhard Gentzen (1934) independently provided such systems, called calculi of natural deduction, with Gentzen's approach introducing the idea of symmetry between the grounds for asserting propositions, expressed in introduction rules, and the consequences of accepting propositions in the elimination rules, an idea that has proved very important in proof theory.Gentzen (1934) further introduced the idea of the sequent calculus, a calculus advanced in a similar spirit that better expressed the duality of the logical connectives, and went on to make fundamental advances in the formalisation of intuitionistic logic, and provide the first combinatorial proof of the consistency of Peano arithmetic. Together, the presentation of natural deduction and the sequent calculus introduced the fundamental idea of analytic proof to proof theory.
Structural proof theory is the subdiscipline of proof theory that studies the specifics of proof calculi. The three most well-known styles of proof calculi are:
Each of these can give a complete and axiomatic formalization of propositional or predicate logic of either the classical or intuitionistic flavour, almost any modal logic, and many substructural logics, such as relevance logic or linear logic. Indeed, it is unusual to find a logic that resists being represented in one of these calculi.
Proof theorists are typically interested in proof calculi that support a notion of analytic proof. The notion of analytic proof was introduced by Gentzen for the sequent calculus; there the analytic proofs are those that are cut-free. Much of the interest in cut-free proofs comes from the subformula property: every formula in the end sequent of a cut-free proof is a subformula of one of the premises. This allows one to show consistency of the sequent calculus easily; if the empty sequent were derivable it would have to be a subformula of some premise, which it is not. Gentzen's midsequent theorem, the Craig interpolation theorem, and Herbrand's theorem also follow as corollaries of the cut-elimination theorem.
Gentzen's natural deduction calculus also supports a notion of analytic proof, as shown by Dag Prawitz. The definition is slightly more complex: we say the analytic proofs are the normal forms, which are related to the notion of normal form in term rewriting. More exotic proof calculi such as Jean-Yves Girard's proof nets also support a notion of analytic proof.
A particular family of analytic proofs arising in reductive logic are focused proofs which characterise a large family of goal-directed proof-search procedures. The ability to transform a proof system into a focused form is a good indication of its syntactic quality, in a manner similar to how admissibility of cut shows that a proof system is syntactically consistent.
Structural proof theory is connected to type theory by means of the Curry–Howard correspondence, which observes a structural analogy between the process of normalisation in the natural deduction calculus and beta reduction in the typed lambda calculus. This provides the foundation for the intuitionistic type theory developed by Per Martin-Löf, and is often extended to a three way correspondence, the third leg of which are the cartesian closed categories.
Other research topics in structural theory include analytic tableau, which apply the central idea of analytic proof from structural proof theory to provide decision procedures and semi-decision procedures for a wide range of logics, and the proof theory of substructural logics.
Ordinal analysis is a powerful technique for providing combinatorial consistency proofs for subsystems of arithmetic, analysis, and set theory. Gödel's second incompleteness theorem is often interpreted as demonstrating that finitistic consistency proofs are impossible for theories of sufficient strength. Ordinal analysis allows one to measure precisely the infinitary content of the consistency of theories. For a consistent recursively axiomatized theory T, one can prove in finitistic arithmetic that the well-foundedness of a certain transfinite ordinal implies the consistency of T. Gödel's second incompleteness theorem implies that the well-foundedness of such an ordinal cannot be proved in the theory T.
Consequences of ordinal analysis include (1) consistency of subsystems of classical second order arithmetic and set theory relative to constructive theories, (2) combinatorial independence results, and (3) classifications of provably total recursive functions and provably well-founded ordinals.
Ordinal analysis was originated by Gentzen, who proved the consistency of Peano Arithmetic using transfinite induction up to ordinal ε0. Ordinal analysis has been extended to many fragments of first and second order arithmetic and set theory. One major challenge has been the ordinal analysis of impredicative theories. The first breakthrough in this direction was Takeuti's proof of the consistency of Π1
1-CA0 using the method of ordinal diagrams.
Provability logic is a modal logic, in which the box operator is interpreted as 'it is provable that'. The point is to capture the notion of a proof predicate of a reasonably rich formal theory. As basic axioms of the provability logic GL (Gödel-Löb), which captures provable in Peano Arithmetic, one takes modal analogues of the Hilbert-Bernays derivability conditions and Löb's theorem (if it is provable that the provability of A implies A, then A is provable).
Some of the basic results concerning the incompleteness of Peano Arithmetic and related theories have analogues in provability logic. For example, it is a theorem in GL that if a contradiction is not provable then it is not provable that a contradiction is not provable (Gödel's second incompleteness theorem). There are also modal analogues of the fixed-point theorem. Robert Solovay proved that the modal logic GL is complete with respect to Peano Arithmetic. That is, the propositional theory of provability in Peano Arithmetic is completely represented by the modal logic GL. This straightforwardly implies that propositional reasoning about provability in Peano Arithmetic is complete and decidable.
Other research in provability logic has focused on first-order provability logic, polymodal provability logic (with one modality representing provability in the object theory and another representing provability in the meta-theory), and interpretability logics intended to capture the interaction between provability and interpretability. Some very recent research has involved applications of graded provability algebras to the ordinal analysis of arithmetical theories.
Reverse mathematics is a program in mathematical logic that seeks to determine which axioms are required to prove theorems of mathematics.The field was founded by Harvey Friedman. Its defining method can be described as "going backwards from the theorems to the axioms", in contrast to the ordinary mathematical practice of deriving theorems from axioms. The reverse mathematics program was foreshadowed by results in set theory such as the classical theorem that the axiom of choice and Zorn's lemma are equivalent over ZF set theory. The goal of reverse mathematics, however, is to study possible axioms of ordinary theorems of mathematics rather than possible axioms for set theory.
In reverse mathematics, one starts with a framework language and a base theory—a core axiom system—that is too weak to prove most of the theorems one might be interested in, but still powerful enough to develop the definitions necessary to state these theorems. For example, to study the theorem "Every bounded sequence of real numbers has a supremum" it is necessary to use a base system that can speak of real numbers and sequences of real numbers.
For each theorem that can be stated in the base system but is not provable in the base system, the goal is to determine the particular axiom system (stronger than the base system) that is necessary to prove that theorem. To show that a system S is required to prove a theorem T, two proofs are required. The first proof shows T is provable from S; this is an ordinary mathematical proof along with a justification that it can be carried out in the system S. The second proof, known as a reversal, shows that T itself implies S; this proof is carried out in the base system. The reversal establishes that no axiom system S′ that extends the base system can be weaker than S while still proving T.
One striking phenomenon in reverse mathematics is the robustness of the Big Five axiom systems. In order of increasing strength, these systems are named by the initialisms RCA0, WKL0, ACA0, ATR0, and Π1
1-CA0. Nearly every theorem of ordinary mathematics that has been reverse mathematically analyzed has been proven equivalent to one of these five systems. Much recent research has focused on combinatorial principles that do not fit neatly into this framework, like RT2
2 (Ramsey's theorem for pairs).
Research in reverse mathematics often incorporates methods and techniques from recursion theory as well as proof theory.
Functional interpretations are interpretations of non-constructive theories in functional ones. Functional interpretations usually proceed in two stages. First, one "reduces" a classical theory C to an intuitionistic one I. That is, one provides a constructive mapping that translates the theorems of C to the theorems of I. Second, one reduces the intuitionistic theory I to a quantifier free theory of functionals F. These interpretations contribute to a form of Hilbert's program, since they prove the consistency of classical theories relative to constructive ones. Successful functional interpretations have yielded reductions of infinitary theories to finitary theories and impredicative theories to predicative ones.
Functional interpretations also provide a way to extract constructive information from proofs in the reduced theory. As a direct consequence of the interpretation one usually obtains the result that any recursive function whose totality can be proven either in I or in C is represented by a term of F. If one can provide an additional interpretation of F in I, which is sometimes possible, this characterization is in fact usually shown to be exact. It often turns out that the terms of F coincide with a natural class of functions, such as the primitive recursive or polynomial-time computable functions. Functional interpretations have also been used to provide ordinal analyses of theories and classify their provably recursive functions.
The study of functional interpretations began with Kurt Gödel's interpretation of intuitionistic arithmetic in a quantifier-free theory of functionals of finite type. This interpretation is commonly known as the Dialectica interpretation. Together with the double-negation interpretation of classical logic in intuitionistic logic, it provides a reduction of classical arithmetic to intuitionistic arithmetic.
The informal proofs of everyday mathematical practice are unlike the formal proofs of proof theory. They are rather like high-level sketches that would allow an expert to reconstruct a formal proof at least in principle, given enough time and patience. For most mathematicians, writing a fully formal proof is too pedantic and long-winded to be in common use.
Formal proofs are constructed with the help of computers in interactive theorem proving. Significantly, these proofs can be checked automatically, also by computer. Checking formal proofs is usually simple, whereas finding proofs (automated theorem proving) is generally hard. An informal proof in the mathematics literature, by contrast, requires weeks of peer review to be checked, and may still contain errors.
In linguistics, type-logical grammar, categorial grammar and Montague grammar apply formalisms based on structural proof theory to give a formal natural language semantics.
Gödel's completeness theorem is a fundamental theorem in mathematical logic that establishes a correspondence between semantic truth and syntactic provability in first-order logic.
Mathematical logic, also called formal logic, is a subfield of mathematics exploring the applications of formal logic to mathematics. It bears close connections to metamathematics, the foundations of mathematics, philosophy, and theoretical computer science. The unifying themes in mathematical logic include the study of the expressive power of formal systems and the deductive power of formal proof systems.
Gerhard Karl Erich Gentzen was a German mathematician and logician. He made major contributions to the foundations of mathematics, proof theory, especially on natural deduction and sequent calculus. He died of starvation in a Soviet prison camp in Prague in 1945, having been interned as a German national after the Second World War.
In logic and proof theory, natural deduction is a kind of proof calculus in which logical reasoning is expressed by inference rules closely related to the "natural" way of reasoning. This contrasts with Hilbert-style systems, which instead use axioms as much as possible to express the logical laws of deductive reasoning.
Gödel's incompleteness theorems are two theorems of mathematical logic that are concerned with the limits of provability in formal axiomatic theories. These results, published by Kurt Gödel in 1931, are important both in mathematical logic and in the philosophy of mathematics. The theorems are widely, but not universally, interpreted as showing that Hilbert's program to find a complete and consistent set of axioms for all mathematics is impossible.
In classical deductive logic, a consistent theory is one that does not lead to a logical contradiction. The lack of contradiction can be defined in either semantic or syntactic terms. The semantic definition states that a theory is consistent if it has a model, i.e., there exists an interpretation under which all formulas in the theory are true. This is the sense used in traditional Aristotelian logic, although in contemporary mathematical logic the term satisfiable is used instead. The syntactic definition states a theory is consistent if there is no formula such that both and its negation are elements of the set of consequences of . Let be a set of closed sentences and the set of closed sentences provable from under some formal deductive system. The set of axioms is consistent when for no formula .
In mathematics, Hilbert's second problem was posed by David Hilbert in 1900 as one of his 23 problems. It asks for a proof that the arithmetic is consistent – free of any internal contradictions. Hilbert stated that the axioms he considered for arithmetic were the ones given in Hilbert (1900), which include a second order completeness axiom.
In mathematical logic, sequent calculus is, in essence, a style of formal logical argumentation where every line of a proof is a conditional tautology instead of an unconditional tautology. Each conditional tautology is inferred from other conditional tautologies on earlier lines in a formal argument according to rules and procedures of inference, giving a better approximation to the natural style of deduction used by mathematicians than David Hilbert's earlier style of formal logic where every line was an unconditional tautology. There may be more subtle distinctions to be made; for example, there may be non-logical axioms upon which all propositions are implicitly dependent. Then sequents signify conditional theorems in a first-order language rather than conditional tautologies.
In mathematical logic, a sequent is a very general kind of conditional assertion.
In programming language theory and proof theory, the Curry–Howard correspondence is the direct relationship between computer programs and mathematical proofs.
In mathematics, Hilbert's program, formulated by German mathematician David Hilbert in the early part of the 20th century, was a proposed solution to the foundational crisis of mathematics, when early attempts to clarify the foundations of mathematics were found to suffer from paradoxes and inconsistencies. As a solution, Hilbert proposed to ground all existing theories to a finite, complete set of axioms, and provide a proof that these axioms were consistent. Hilbert proposed that the consistency of more complicated systems, such as real analysis, could be proven in terms of simpler systems. Ultimately, the consistency of all of mathematics could be reduced to basic arithmetic.
The cut-elimination theorem is the central result establishing the significance of the sequent calculus. It was originally proved by Gerhard Gentzen in his landmark 1934 paper "Investigations in Logical Deduction" for the systems LJ and LK formalising intuitionistic and classical logic respectively. The cut-elimination theorem states that any judgement that possesses a proof in the sequent calculus making use of the cut rule also possesses a cut-free proof, that is, a proof that does not make use of the cut rule.
In mathematical logic, a proof calculus or a proof system is built to prove statements.
In mathematical logic, Heyting arithmetic is an axiomatization of arithmetic in accordance with the philosophy of intuitionism. It is named after Arend Heyting, who first proposed it.
Gentzen's consistency proof is a result of proof theory in mathematical logic, published by Gerhard Gentzen in 1936. It shows that the Peano axioms of first-order arithmetic do not contain a contradiction, as long as a certain other system used in the proof does not contain any contradictions either. This other system, today called "primitive recursive arithmetic with the additional principle of quantifier-free transfinite induction up to the ordinal ε0", is neither weaker nor stronger than the system of Peano axioms. Gentzen argued that it avoids the questionable modes of inference contained in Peano arithmetic and that its consistency is therefore less controversial.
In proof theory, a discipline within mathematical logic, double-negation translation, sometimes called negative translation, is a general approach for embedding classical logic into intuitionistic logic, typically by translating formulas to formulas which are classically equivalent but intuitionistically inequivalent. Particular instances of double-negation translation include Glivenko's translation for propositional logic, and the Gödel–Gentzen translation and Kuroda's translation for first-order logic.
In mathematical logic, a judgment or assertion is a statement or enunciation in the metalanguage. For example, typical judgments in first-order logic would be that a string is a well-formed formula, or that a proposition is true. Similarly, a judgment may assert the occurrence of a free variable in an expression of the object language, or the provability of a proposition. In general, a judgment may be any inductively definable assertion in the metatheory.
In proof theory, the Dialectica interpretation is a proof interpretation of intuitionistic arithmetic into a finite type extension of primitive recursive arithmetic, the so-called System T. It was developed by Kurt Gödel to provide a consistency proof of arithmetic. The name of the interpretation comes from the journal Dialectica, where Gödel's paper was published in a 1958 special issue dedicated to Paul Bernays on his 70th birthday.
A timeline of mathematical logic. See also History of logic.
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