Can there be natural instances of nonlinearity in the hierarchy of consistency strength? UWM Logic Seminar, January 2021

This is a talk for the University of Wisconsin, Madison Logic Seminar, 25 January 2020 1 pm (7 pm UK).

The talk will be held online via Zoom ID: 998 6013 7362.

Abstract. It is a mystery often mentioned in the foundations of mathematics that our best and strongest mathematical theories seem to be linearly ordered and indeed well-ordered by consistency strength. Given any two of the familiar large cardinal hypotheses, for example, generally one of them proves the consistency of the other. Why should this be? The phenomenon is seen as significant for the philosophy of mathematics, perhaps pointing us toward the ultimately correct mathematical theories. And yet, we know as a purely formal matter that the hierarchy of consistency strength is not well-ordered. It is ill-founded, densely ordered, and nonlinear. The statements usually used to illustrate these features are often dismissed as unnatural or as Gödelian trickery. In this talk, I aim to overcome that criticism—as well as I am able to—by presenting a variety of natural hypotheses that reveal ill-foundedness in consistency strength, density in the hierarchy of consistency strength, and incomparability in consistency strength.

The talk should be generally accessible to university logic students, requiring little beyond familiarity with the incompleteness theorem and some elementary ideas from computability theory.

Brent Cody

Brent Cody earned his Ph.D. under my supervision at the CUNY Graduate Center in June, 2012.  Brent’s dissertation work began with the question of finding the exact consistency strength of the GCH failing at a cardinal $\theta$, when $\kappa$ is $\theta$-supercompact.  The answer turned out to be a $\theta$-supercompact cardinal that was also $\theta^{++}$-tall.  After this, he quickly dispatched more general instances of what he termed the Levinski property for a variety of other large cardinals, advancing his work towards a general investigation of the Easton theorem phenomenon in the large cardinal context, which he is now undertaking.  Brent held a post-doctoral position at the Fields Institute in Toronto, afterwards taking up a position at the University of Prince Edward Island.  He is now at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Brent Cody

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Brent Cody, “Some Results on Large Cardinals and the Continuum Function,” Ph.D. dissertation for The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, June, 2012.

Abstract.  Given a Woodin cardinal $\delta$, I show that if $F$ is any Easton function with $F”\delta\subseteq\delta$ and GCH holds, then there is a cofinality preserving forcing extension in which $2^\gamma= F(\gamma)$ for each regular cardinal $\gamma<\delta$, and in which $\delta$ remains Woodin.

I also present a new example in which forcing a certain behavior of the continuum function on the regular cardinals, while preserving a given large cardinal, requires large cardinal strength beyond that of the original large cardinal under consideration. Specifically, I prove that the existence of a $\lambda$-supercompact cardinal $\kappa$ such that GCH fails at $\lambda$ is equiconsistent with the existence of a cardinal $\kappa$ that is $\lambda$-supercompact and $\lambda^{++}$-tall.

I generalize a theorem on measurable cardinals due to Levinski, which says that given a measurable cardinal, there is a forcing extension preserving the measurability of $\kappa$ in which $\kappa$ is the least regular cardinal at which GCH holds. Indeed, I show that Levinski’s result can be extended to many other large cardinal contexts. This work paves the way for many additional results, analogous to the results stated above for Woodin cardinals and partially supercompact cardinals.