MW: Time to talk about the Paris-Harrington theorem. Originally I thought I’d give a “broad strokes” proof, but then I remembered what you once wrote: keep it fun, not a textbook. Anyway, Katz and Reimann do a nice job for someone who wants to dive into the details, without signing up for a full-bore grad course in model theory. So I’ll say a bit about the “cast of characters” (i.e., central ideas), and why I think they merit our attention.
Category Archives: Logic
JB: So, you were going to tell me a bit how questions about the universe of sets cast their shadows down on the world of Peano arithmetic.
MW: Yup. There are few ways to approach this. Mainly I want to get to the Paris-Harrington theorem, which Enayat name-checks.
First though I should do some table setting of my own. There’s a really succinct way to compare ZF with PA: PA = ZF − infinity!
MW: Our goal for the next few posts is to understand Enayat’s paper
• Ali Enayat, Standard models of arithmetic.
MW: I’m going to take a leisurely approach, with “day trips” to nearby attractions (or Sehenswürdigkeiten, in the delightful German phrase), but still trying not to miss our return flight.
Also, I know you know a lot of this stuff. But unless we’re the only two reading this (in which case, why not just email?), I won’t worry about what you know. I’ll just pretend I’m explaining it to a younger version of myself—the one who often murmured, “Future MW, just what does this mean?”
Recursively enumerable (r.e.) sets are “semi-decidable”: if x belongs to an r.e. set W, then there’s a terminating computation proving that fact. But there may not be any way to verify that x does not belong to W. The founding theorem of recursion theory—the unsolvability of the Halting Problem—furnishes an r.e., non-recursive set. For this set, we have a program listing what’s in W, but no program listing what’s out.
JB: It’s interesting to see how you deploy various philosophies of mathematics: Platonism, intuitionism, formalism, etc. For a long time I’ve been disgusted by how people set up battles between these, like Punch-and-Judy shows where little puppets whack each other, instead of trying to clarify what any of these philosophies might actually mean.
For example, some like to whack Platonism for its claim that numbers “really exist”, without investigating what it might mean for an abstraction—a Platonic form—to “really exist”. If you define “really exist” in such a way that abstractions don’t do this, that’s fine—but it doesn’t mean you’ve defeated Platonism, it merely means you’re committed to a different way of thinking and talking.
MW: John, you wrote:
Roughly, my dream is to show that “the” standard model is a much more nebulous notion than many seem to believe.
and you gave a good elucidation in post 2 and post 4. But I’d like to defend my right to “true arithmetic” and “the standard model “.
MW: I wrote: “I don’t like calling the omega of a model of ZF a standard model, for philosophical reasons I won’t get into.”
JB: I like it, because I don’t like the idea of “the” standard model of arithmetic, so I’m happy to see that “the” turned into an “a”.