[Reminder: JB=John Baez, MW=Michael Weiss.]
MW: Besides Kaye and Kossak & Schmerl., I should mention the book by Hájek and Pudlák, but I don’t have a copy of that. Thanks muchly for the Enayat paper, which looks fascinating.
What you and Enayat are calling the “standard” model of arithmetic is what I used to call “an omega”, i.e., the omega of a model of ZF. Is that the new standard terminology for it? I don’t like it, for philosophical reasons I won’t get into. (Reminds me of the whole “interpretations of QM” that books have to skirt around, when they just want to shut up and calculate.)
Leaving ZF out of it, a friend in grad school used to go around arguing that 7 is non-standard. Try and give a proof that 7 is standard using fewer than seven symbols. And of course for any element of a non-standard model, there is a “proof” of non-standard length that the element is standard. I think he did this just to be provocative. Amusingly, he parlayed this line of thought into some real results and ultimately a thesis.
JB: The only books I know on models of Peano arithmetic are Kaye’s Models of Peano Arithmetic and Kossack and Schmerl’s more demanding The Structure of Models of Peano Arithmetic, and I’m trying to read both. But I have a certain dream which is being aided and abetted by this paper:
• Ali Enayat, Standard Models of Arithmetic.
Roughly, my dream is to show that “the” standard model is a much more nebulous notion than many seem to believe.
This is the first in a series of posts, recording an e-conversation between John Baez (JB) and me (MW).
JB: I’ve lately been trying to learn about nonstandard models of Peano arithmetic. Do you know what a “recursively saturated” model is? They’re supposed to be important but I don’t get the idea yet.
MW: What books and/or papers are you reading? I used to know this stuff, indeed my thesis (1980) was on existentially complete models of arithmetic. When I looked at it a couple of years ago, I was amazed at how much I’d forgotten. Talk about depressing.
Anyway, I’ll toss out a few vague ideas, to see if they help. Maybe this will be the push I need to get back to Kaye’s book, or even Kossak & Schmerl. I picked them up a few months ago, hoping to revisit my youth, but I didn’t make it past the prefaces.
As Hodges puts it, model theory is “algebraic geometry minus fields”. If you have an algebraic number r in a extension field K/F, it’s natural to look at all the polynomials in F[x] which have r as a root. It turns out that this is a principal ideal, generated by the minimal polynomial.