Jonas Reitz earned his Ph.D under my supervision in June, 2006 at the CUNY Graduate Center. He was truly a pleasure to supervise. From the earliest days of his dissertation research, he had his own plan for the topic of the work: he wanted to “undo” forcing, to somehow force backwards, from the extension to the ground model. At first I was skeptical, but in time, ideas crystalized around the ground axiom (now with its own Wikipedia entry), formulated using a recent-at-the-time result of Richard Laver. Along with Laver’s theorem, Jonas’s dissertation was the beginning of the body of work now known as set-theoretic geology. Jonas holds a tenured position at the New York City College of Technology of CUNY.
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Jonas Reitz, “The ground axiom,” Ph.D. dissertation, CUNY Graduate Center, June, 2006. ar$\chi$iv
Abstract. A new axiom is proposed, the Ground Axiom, asserting that the universe is not a nontrivial set-forcing extension of any inner model. The Ground Axiom is first-order expressible, and any model of ZFC has a class-forcing extension which satisfies it. The Ground Axiom is independent of many well-known set-theoretic assertions including the Generalized Continuum Hypothesis, the assertion V=HOD that every set is ordinal definable, and the existence of measurable and supercompact cardinals. The related Bedrock Axiom, asserting that the universe is a set-forcing extension of a model satisfying the Ground Axiom, is also first-order expressible, and its negation is consistent. As many of these results rely on forcing with proper classes, an appendix is provided giving an exposition of the underlying theory of proper class forcing.