On set-theoretic mereology as a foundation of mathematics, Oxford Phil Math seminar, October 2018

This will be a talk for the Philosophy of Mathematics Seminar in Oxford, October 29, 2018, 4:30-6:30 in the Ryle Room of the Philosopher Centre.

Abstract. In light of the comparative success of membership-based set theory in the foundations of mathematics, since the time of Cantor, Zermelo and Hilbert, it is natural to wonder whether one might find a similar success for set-theoretic mereology, based upon the set-theoretic inclusion relation $\subseteq$ rather than the element-of relation $\in$.  How well does set-theoretic mereological serve as a foundation of mathematics? Can we faithfully interpret the rest of mathematics in terms of the subset relation to the same extent that set theorists have argued (with whatever degree of success) that we may find faithful representations in terms of the membership relation? Basically, can we get by with merely $\subseteq$ in place of $\in$? Ultimately, I shall identify grounds supporting generally negative answers to these questions, concluding that set-theoretic mereology by itself cannot serve adequately as a foundational theory.

This is joint work with Makoto Kikuchi, and the talk is based on our joint articles:

The talk will also mention some related recent work with Ruizhi Yang (Shanghai).

Slides

Parallels in universality between the universal algorithm and the universal finite set, Oxford Math Logic Seminar, October 2018

This will be a talk for the Logic Seminar in Oxford at the Mathematics Institute in the Andrew Wiles Building on October 9, 2018, at 4:00 pm, with tea at 3:30.

Abstract. The universal algorithm is a Turing machine program $e$ that can in principle enumerate any finite sequence of numbers, if run in the right model of PA, and furthermore, can always enumerate any desired extension of that sequence in a suitable end-extension of that model. The universal finite set is a set-theoretic analogue, a locally verifiable definition that can in principle define any finite set, in the right model of set theory, and can always define any desired finite extension of that set in a suitable top-extension of that model. Recent work has uncovered a $\Sigma_1$-definable version that works with respect to end-extensions. I shall give an account of all three results, which have a parallel form, and describe applications to the model theory of arithmetic and set theory.

Slides

Topological models of arithmetic

  • A. Enayat, J. D. Hamkins, and B. Wcisło, “Topological models of arithmetic,” ArXiv e-prints, 2018. (under review)  
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Abstract. Ali Enayat had asked whether there is a nonstandard model of Peano arithmetic (PA) that can be represented as $\newcommand\Q{\mathbb{Q}}\langle\Q,\oplus,\otimes\rangle$, where $\oplus$ and $\otimes$ are continuous functions on the rationals $\Q$. We prove, affirmatively, that indeed every countable model of PA has such a continuous presentation on the rationals. More generally, we investigate the topological spaces that arise as such topological models of arithmetic. The reals $\newcommand\R{\mathbb{R}}\R$, the reals in any finite dimension $\R^n$, the long line and the Cantor space do not, and neither does any Suslin line; many other spaces do; the status of the Baire space is open.

 

The first author had inquired whether a nonstandard model of arithmetic could be continuously presented on the rational numbers.

Main Question. (Enayat, 2009) Are there continuous functions $\oplus$ and $\otimes$ on the rational numbers $\Q$, such that $\langle\Q,\oplus,\otimes\rangle$ is a nonstandard model of arithmetic?

By a model of arithmetic, what we mean here is a model of the first-order Peano axioms PA, although we also consider various weakenings of this theory. The theory PA asserts of a structure $\langle M,+,\cdot\rangle$ that it is the non-negative part of a discretely ordered ring, plus the induction principle for assertions in the language of arithmetic. The natural numbers $\newcommand\N{\mathbb{N}}\langle \N,+,\cdot\rangle$, for example, form what is known as the standard model of PA, but there are also many nonstandard models, including continuum many non-isomorphic countable models.

We answer the question affirmatively, and indeed, the main theorem shows that every countable model of PA is continuously presented on $\Q$. We define generally that a topological model of arithmetic is a topological space $X$ equipped with continuous functions $\oplus$ and $\otimes$, for which $\langle X,\oplus,\otimes\rangle$ satisfies the desired arithmetic theory. In such a case, we shall say that the underlying space $X$ continuously supports a model of arithmetic and that the model is continuously presented upon the space $X$.

Question. Which topological spaces support a topological model of arithmetic?

In the paper, we prove that the reals $\R$, the reals in any finite dimension $\R^n$, the long line and Cantor space do not support a topological model of arithmetic, and neither does any Suslin line. Meanwhile, there are many other spaces that do support topological models, including many uncountable subspaces of the plane $\R^2$. It remains an open question whether any uncountable Polish space, including the Baire space, can support a topological model of arithmetic.

Let me state the main theorem and briefly sketch the proof.

Main Theorem. Every countable model of PA has a continuous presentation on the rationals $\Q$.

Proof. We shall prove the theorem first for the standard model of arithmetic $\langle\N,+,\cdot\rangle$. Every school child knows that when computing integer sums and products by the usual algorithms, the final digits of the result $x+y$ or $x\cdot y$ are completely determined by the corresponding final digits of the inputs $x$ and $y$. Presented with only final segments of the input, the child can nevertheless proceed to compute the corresponding final segments of the output.

\begin{equation*}\small\begin{array}{rcr}
\cdots1261\quad & \qquad & \cdots1261\quad\\
\underline{+\quad\cdots 153\quad}&\qquad & \underline{\times\quad\cdots 153\quad}\\
\cdots414\quad & \qquad & \cdots3783\quad\\
& & \cdots6305\phantom{3}\quad\\
& & \cdots1261\phantom{53}\quad\\
& & \underline{\quad\cdots\cdots\phantom{253}\quad}\\
& & \cdots933\quad\\
\end{array}\end{equation*}

This phenomenon amounts exactly to the continuity of addition and multiplication with respect to what we call the final-digits topology on $\N$, which is the topology having basic open sets $U_s$, the set of numbers whose binary representations ends with the digits $s$, for any finite binary string $s$. (One can do a similar thing with any base.) In the $U_s$ notation, we include the number that would arise by deleting initial $0$s from $s$; for example, $6\in U_{00110}$. Addition and multiplication are continuous in this topology, because if $x+y$ or $x\cdot y$ has final digits $s$, then by the school-child’s observation, this is ensured by corresponding final digits in $x$ and $y$, and so $(x,y)$ has an open neighborhood in the final-digits product space, whose image under the sum or product, respectively, is contained in $U_s$.

Let us make several elementary observations about the topology. The sets $U_s$ do indeed form the basis of a topology, because $U_s\cap U_t$ is empty, if $s$ and $t$ disagree on some digit (comparing from the right), or else it is either $U_s$ or $U_t$, depending on which sequence is longer. The topology is Hausdorff, because different numbers are distinguished by sufficiently long segments of final digits. There are no isolated points, because every basic open set $U_s$ has infinitely many elements. Every basic open set $U_s$ is clopen, since the complement of $U_s$ is the union of $U_t$, where $t$ conflicts on some digit with $s$. The topology is actually the same as the metric topology generated by the $2$-adic valuation, which assigns the distance between two numbers as $2^{-k}$, when $k$ is largest such that $2^k$ divides their difference; the set $U_s$ is an open ball in this metric, centered at the number represented by $s$. (One can also see that it is metric by the Urysohn metrization theorem, since it is a Hausdorff space with a countable clopen basis, and therefore regular.) By a theorem of Sierpinski, every countable metric space without isolated points is homeomorphic to the rational line $\Q$, and so we conclude that the final-digits topology on $\N$ is homeomorphic to $\Q$. We’ve therefore proved that the standard model of arithmetic $\N$ has a continuous presentation on $\Q$, as desired.

But let us belabor the argument somewhat, since we find it interesting to notice that the final-digits topology (or equivalently, the $2$-adic metric topology on $\N$) is precisely the order topology of a certain definable order on $\N$, what we call the final-digits order, an endless dense linear order, which is therefore order-isomorphic and thus also homeomorphic to the rational line $\Q$, as desired.

Specifically, the final-digits order on the natural numbers, pictured in figure 1, is the order induced from the lexical order on the finite binary representations, but considering the digits from right-to-left, giving higher priority in the lexical comparison to the low-value final digits of the number. To be precise, the final-digits order $n\triangleleft m$ holds, if at the first point of disagreement (from the right) in their binary representation, $n$ has $0$ and $m$ has $1$; or if there is no disagreement, because one of them is longer, then the longer number is lower, if the next digit is $0$, and higher, if it is $1$ (this is not the same as treating missing initial digits as zero). Thus, the even numbers appear as the left half of the order, since their final digit is $0$, and the odd numbers as the right half, since their final digit is $1$, and $0$ is directly in the middle; indeed, the highly even numbers, whose representations end with a lot of zeros, appear further and further to the left, while the highly odd numbers, which end with many ones, appear further and further to the right. If one does not allow initial $0$s in the binary representation of numbers, then note that zero is represented in binary by the empty sequence. It is evident that the final-digits order is an endless dense linear order on $\N$, just as the corresponding lexical order on finite binary strings is an endless dense linear order.

The basic open set $U_s$ of numbers having final digits $s$ is an open set in this order, since any number ending with $s$ is above a number with binary form $100\cdots0s$ and below a number with binary form $11\cdots 1s$ in the final-digits order; so $U_s$ is a union of intervals in the final-digits order. Conversely, every interval in the final-digits order is open in the final-digits topology, because if $n\triangleleft x\triangleleft m$, then this is determined by some final segment of the digits of $x$ (appending initial $0$s if necessary), and so there is some $U_s$ containing $x$ and contained in the interval between $n$ and $m$. Thus, the final-digits topology is the precisely same as the order topology of the final-digits order, which is a definable endless dense linear order on $\N$. Since this order is isomorphic and hence homeomorphic to the rational line $\Q$, we conclude again that $\langle \N,+,\cdot\rangle$ admits a continuous presentation on $\Q$.

We now complete the proof by considering an arbitrary countable model $M$ of PA. Let $\triangleleft^M$ be the final-digits order as defined inside $M$. Since the reasoning of the above paragraphs can be undertaken in PA, it follows that $M$ can see that its addition and multiplication are continuous with respect to the order topology of its final-digits order. Since $M$ is countable, the final-digits order of $M$ makes it a countable endless dense linear order, which by Cantor’s theorem is therefore order-isomorphic and hence homeomorphic to $\Q$. Thus, $M$ has a continuous presentation on the rational line $\Q$, as desired. $\Box$

The executive summary of the proof is: the arithmetic of the standard model $\N$ is continuous with respect to the final-digits topology, which is the same as the $2$-adic metric topology on $\N$, and this is homeomorphic to the rational line, because it is the order topology of the final-digits order, a definable endless dense linear order; applied in a nonstandard model $M$, this observation means the arithmetic of $M$ is continuous with respect to its rational line $\Q^M$, which for countable models is isomorphic to the actual rational line $\Q$, and so such an $M$ is continuously presentable upon $\Q$.

Let me mention the following order, which it seems many people expect to use instead of the final-digits order as we defined it above. With this order, one in effect takes missing initial digits of a number as $0$, which is of course quite reasonable.

The problem with this order, however, is that the order topology is not actually the final-digits topology. For example, the set of all numbers having final digits $110$ in this order has a least element, the number $6$, and so it is not open in the order topology. Worse, I claim that arithmetic is not continuous with respect to this order. For example, $1+1=2$, and $2$ has an open neighborhood consisting entirely of even numbers, but every open neighborhood of $1$ has both odd and even numbers, whose sums therefore will not all be in the selected neighborhood of $2$. Even the successor function $x\mapsto x+1$ is not continuous with respect to this order.

Finally, let me mention that a version of the main theorem also applies to the integers $\newcommand\Z{\mathbb{Z}}\Z$, using the following order.

Go to the article to read more.

  • A. Enayat, J. D. Hamkins, and B. Wcisło, “Topological models of arithmetic,” ArXiv e-prints, 2018. (under review)  
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A new proof of the Barwise extension theorem, without infinitary logic

I have found a new proof of the Barwise extension theorem, that wonderful yet quirky result of classical admissible set theory, which says that every countable model of set theory can be extended to a model of $\text{ZFC}+V=L$.

Barwise Extension Theorem. (Barwise 1971) $\newcommand\ZF{\text{ZF}}\newcommand\ZFC{\text{ZFC}}$ Every countable model of set theory $M\models\ZF$ has an end-extension to a model of $\ZFC+V=L$.

The Barwise extension theorem is both (i) a technical culmination of the pioneering methods of Barwise in admissible set theory and infinitary logic, including the Barwise compactness and completeness theorems and the admissible cover, but also (ii) one of those rare mathematical theorems that is saturated with significance for the philosophy of mathematics and particularly the philosophy of set theory. I discussed the theorem and its philosophical significance at length in my paper, The multiverse perspective on the axiom of constructibility, where I argued that it can change how we look upon the axiom of constructibility and whether this axiom should be considered ‘restrictive,’ as it often is in set theory. Ultimately, the Barwise extension theorem shows how wrong a model of set theory can be, if we should entertain the idea that the set-theoretic universe continues growing beyond it.

Regarding my new proof, below, however, what I find especially interesting about it, if not surprising in light of (i) above, is that it makes no use of Barwise compactness or completeness and indeed, no use of infinitary logic at all! Instead, the new proof uses only classical methods of descriptive set theory concerning the representation of $\Pi^1_1$ sets with well-founded trees, the Levy and Shoenfield absoluteness theorems, the reflection theorem and the Keisler-Morley theorem on elementary extensions via definable ultrapowers. Like the Barwise proof, my proof splits into cases depending on whether the model $M$ is standard or nonstandard, but another interesting thing about it is that with my proof, it is the $\omega$-nonstandard case that is easier, whereas with the Barwise proof, the transitive case was easiest, since one only needed to resort to the admissible cover when $M$ was ill-founded. Barwise splits into cases on well-founded/ill-founded, whereas in my argument, the cases are $\omega$-standard/$\omega$-nonstandard.

To clarify the terms, an end-extension of a model of set theory $\langle M,\in^M\rangle$ is another model $\langle N,\in^N\rangle$, such that the first is a substructure of the second, so that $M\subseteq N$ and $\in^M=\in^N\upharpoonright M$, but further, the new model does not add new elements to sets in $M$. In other words, $M$ is an $\in$-initial segment of $N$, or more precisely: if $a\in^N b\in M$, then $a\in M$ and hence $a\in^M b$.

Set theory, of course, overflows with instances of end-extensions. For example, the rank-initial segments $V_\alpha$ end-extend to their higher instances $V_\beta$, when $\alpha<\beta$; similarly, the hierarchy of the constructible universe $L_\alpha\subseteq L_\beta$ are end-extensions; indeed any transitive set end-extends to all its supersets. The set-theoretic universe $V$ is an end-extension of the constructible universe $L$ and every forcing extension $M[G]$ is an end-extension of its ground model $M$, even when nonstandard. (In particular, one should not confuse end-extensions with rank-extensions, also known as top-extensions, where one insists that all the new sets have higher rank than any ordinal in the smaller model.)

Let’s get into the proof.

Proof. Suppose that $M$ is a model of $\ZF$ set theory. Consider first the case that $M$ is $\omega$-nonstandard. For any particular standard natural number $k$, the reflection theorem ensures that there are arbitrarily high $L_\alpha^M$ satisfying $\ZFC_k+V=L$, where $\ZFC_k$ refers to the first $k$ axioms of $\ZFC$ in a fixed computable enumeration by length. In particular, every countable transitive set $m\in L^M$ has an end-extension to a model of $\ZFC_k+V=L$. By overspill (that is, since the standard cut is not definable), there must be some nonstandard $k$ for which $L^M$ thinks that every countable transitive set $m$ has an end-extension to a model of $\ZFC_k+V=L$, which we may assume is countable. This is a $\Pi^1_2$ statement about $k$, which will therefore also be true in $M$, by the Shoenfield absolutenss theorem. It will also be true in all the elementary extensions of $M$, as well as in their forcing extensions. And indeed, by the Keisler-Morley theorem, the model $M$ has an elementary top extension $M^+$. Let $\theta$ be a new ordinal on top of $M$, and let $m=V_\theta^{M^+}$ be the $\theta$-rank-initial segment of $M^+$, which is a top-extension of $M$. Let $M^+[G]$ be a forcing extension in which $m$ has become countable. Since the $\Pi^1_2$ statement is true in $M^+[G]$, there is an end-extension of $\langle m,\in^{M^+}\rangle$ to a model $\langle N,\in^N\rangle$ that $M^+[G]$ thinks satisfies $\ZFC_k+V=L$. Since $k$ is nonstandard, this theory includes all the $\ZFC$ axioms, and since $m$ end-extends $M$, we have found an end-extension of $M$ to a model of $\ZFC+V=L$, as desired.

It remains to consider the case where $M$ is $\omega$-standard. By the Keisler-Morley theorem, let $M^+$ be an elementary top-extension of $M$. Let $\theta$ be an ordinal of $M^+$ above $M$, and consider the corresponding rank-initial segment $m=V_\theta^{M^+}$, which is a transitive set in $M^+$ that covers $M$. If $\langle m,\in^{M^+}\rangle$ has an end-extension to a model of $\ZFC+V=L$, then we’re done, since such a model would also end-extend $M$. So assume toward contradiction that there is no such end-extension of $m$. Let $M^+[G]$ be a forcing extension in which $m$ has become countable. The assertion that $m$ has no end-extension to a model of $\ZFC+V=L$ is actually true and hence true in $M^+[G]$. This is a $\Pi^1_1$ assertion there about the real coding $m$. Every such assertion has a canonically associated tree, which is well-founded exactly when the statement is true. Since the statement is true in $M^+[G]$, this tree has some countable rank $\lambda$ there. Since these models have the standard $\omega$, the tree associated with the statement is the same for us as inside the model, and since the statement is actually true, the tree is actually well founded. So the rank $\lambda$ must come from the well-founded part of the model.

If $\lambda$ happens to be countable in $L^{M^+}$, then consider the assertion, “there is a countable transitive set, such that the assertion that it has no end-extension to a model of $\ZFC+V=L$ has rank $\lambda$.” This is a $\Sigma_1$ assertion, since it is witnessed by the countable transitive set and the ranking function of the tree associated with the non-extension assertion. Since the parameters are countable, it follows by Levy reflection that the statement is true in $L^{M^+}$. So $L^{M^+}$ has a countable transitive set, such that the assertion that it has no end-extension to a model of $\ZFC+V=L$ has rank $\lambda$. But since $\lambda$ is actually well-founded, the statement would have to be actually true; but it isn’t, since $L^{M^+}$ itself is such an extension, a contradiction.

So we may assume $\lambda$ is uncountable in $M^+$. In this case, since $\lambda$ was actually well-ordered, it follows that $L^M$ is well-founded beyond its $\omega_1$. Consider the statement “there is a countable transitive set having no end-extension to a model of $\ZFC+V=L$.” This is a $\Sigma^1_2$ sentence, which is true in $M^+[G]$ by our assumption about $m$, and so by Shoenfield absoluteness, it is true in $L^{M^+}$ and hence also $L^M$. So $L^M$ thinks there is a countable transitive set $b$ having no end-extension to a model of $\ZFC+V=L$. This is a $\Pi^1_1$ assertion about $b$, whose truth is witnessed in $L^M$ by a ranking of the associated tree. Since this rank would be countable in $L^M$ and this model is well-founded up to its $\omega_1$, the tree must be actually well-founded. But this is impossible, since it is not actually true that $b$ has no such end-extension, since $L^M$ itself is such an end-extension of $b$. Contradiction. $\Box$

One can prove a somewhat stronger version of the theorem, as follows.

Theorem. For any countable model $M$ of $\ZF$, with an inner model $W\models\ZFC$, and any statement $\phi$ true in $W$, there is an end-extension of $M$ to a model of $\ZFC+\phi$. Furthermore, one can arrange that every set of $M$ is countable in the extension model.

In particular, one can find end-extensions of $\ZFC+V=L+\phi$, for any statement $\phi$ true in $L^M$.

Proof. Carry out the same proof as above, except in all the statements, ask for end-extensions of $\ZFC+\phi$, instead of end-extensions of $\ZFC+V=L$, and also ask that the set in question become countable in that extension. The final contradictions are obtained by the fact that the countable transitive sets in $L^M$ do have end-extensions like that, in which they are countable, since $W$ is such an end-extension. $\Box$

For example, we can make the following further examples.

Corollaries.

  1. Every countable model $M$ of $\ZFC$ with a measurable cardinal has an end-extension to a model $N$ of $\ZFC+V=L[\mu]$.
  2. Every countable model $M$ of $\ZFC$ with extender-based large cardinals has an end-extension to a model $N$ satisfying $\ZFC+V=L[\vec E]$.
  3. Every countable model $M$ of $\ZFC$ with infinitely many Woodin cardinals has an end-extension to a model $N$ of $\ZF+\text{AD}+V=L(\mathbb{R})$.

And in each case, we can furthermore arrange that every set of $M$ is countable in the extension model $N$.

This proof grew out of a project on the $\Sigma_1$-definable universal finite set, which I am currently undertaking with Kameryn Williams and Philip Welch.


Jon Barwise. Infinitary methods in the model theory of set theory. In Logic
Colloquium ’69 (Proc. Summer School and Colloq., Manchester, 1969), pages
53–66. North-Holland, Amsterdam, 1971.

Paul K. Gorbow, PhD 2018, University of Gothenburg

Paul K. Gorbow successfully defended his dissertation, “Self-similarity in the foundations” on June 14, 2018 at the University of Gothenburg in the Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science, under the supervision of Ali Enayat, with Peter LeFanu Lumsdaine and Zachiri McKenzie serving as secondary supervisors.  The defense opponent was Roman Kossak, with a dissertation committee consisting of Jon Henrik Forssell, Joel David Hamkins (myself) and Vera Koponen, chaired by Fredrik Engström. Congratulations!

University of Gothenburg profilear$\chi$ivResearch Gate

Paul K. Gorbow, “Self-similarity in the foundations,” PhD dissertation for the University of Gothenburg, Acta Philosophica Gothoburgensia 32, June 2018. (arxiv:1806.11310)

Abstract. This thesis concerns embeddings and self-embeddings of foundational structures in both set theory and category theory. 

The first part of the work on models of set theory consists in establishing a refined version of Friedman’s theorem on the existence of embeddings between countable non-standard models of a fragment of ZF, and an analogue of a theorem of Gaifman to the effect that certain countable models of set theory can be elementarily end-extended to a model with many automorphisms whose sets of fixed points equal the original model. The second part of the work on set theory consists in combining these two results into a technical machinery, yielding several results about non-standard models of set theory relating such notions as self-embeddings, their sets of fixed points, strong rank-cuts, and set theories of different strengths.

The work in foundational category theory consists in the formulation of a novel algebraic set theory which is proved to be equiconsistent to New Foundations (NF), and which can be modulated to correspond to intuitionistic or classical NF, with or without atoms. A key axiom of this theory expresses that its structures have an endofunctor with natural properties.

In the Swedish style of dissertation defense, the opponent (in this case Roman Kossak) summarizes the dissertation, placing it in a broader context, and then challenges various parts of it, probing the candidate’s expertise in an extended discussion. What a pleasure it was to see this.  After this, there is a broader discussion, in which the committee is also involved.

Set-theoretic potentialism and the universal finite set, Scandinavian Logic Symposium, June 2018

This will be an invited talk at the Scandinavian Logic Symposium SLS 2018, held at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, June 11-13, 2018.

Abstract. Providing a set-theoretic analogue of the universal algorithm, I shall define a certain finite set in set theory
$$\{x\mid\varphi(x)\}$$
and prove that it exhibits a universal extension property: it can be any desired particular finite set in the right set-theoretic universe and it can become successively any desired larger finite set in top-extensions of that universe. Specifically, ZFC proves the set is finite; the definition $\varphi$ has complexity $\Sigma_2$ and therefore any instance of it $\varphi(x)$ is locally verifiable inside any sufficiently large $V_\theta$; the set is empty in any transitive model; and if $\varphi$ defines the set $y$ in some countable model $M$ of ZFC and $y\subset z$ for some finite set $z$ in $M$, then there is a top-extension of $M$ to a model $N$ of ZFC in which $\varphi$ defines the new set $z$. I shall draw out consequences of the universal finite set for set-theoretic potentialism and discuss several issues it raises in the philosophy of set theory.

The talk will include joint work with W. Hugh Woodin, Øystein Linnebo and others.

Slides: Set-theoretic potentialism and universal finite set SLS 2018

Different set theories are never bi-interpretable

I was fascinated recently to discover something I hadn’t realized about relative interpretability in set theory, and I’d like to share it here. Namely,

Different set theories extending ZF are never bi-interpretable!

For example, ZF and ZFC are not bi-interpretable, and neither are ZFC and ZFC+CH, nor ZFC and ZFC+$\neg$CH, despite the fact that all these theories are equiconsistent. The basic fact is that there are no nontrivial instances of bi-interpretation amongst the models of ZF set theory. This is surprising, and could even be seen as shocking, in light of the philosophical remarks one sometimes hears asserted in the philosophy of set theory that what is going on with the various set-theoretic translations from large cardinals to determinacy to inner model theory, to mention a central example, is that we can interpret between these theories and consequently it doesn’t much matter which context is taken as fundamental, since we can translate from one context to another without loss.

The bi-interpretation result shows that these interpretations do not and cannot rise to the level of bi-interpretations of theories — the most robust form of mutual relative interpretability — and consequently, the translations inevitably must involve a loss of information.

To be sure, set theorists classify the various set-theoretic principles and theories into a hierarchy, often organized by consistency strength or by other notions of interpretative power, using forcing or definable inner models. From any model of ZF, for example, we can construct a model of ZFC, and from any model of ZFC, we can construct models of ZFC+CH or ZFC+$\neg$CH and so on. From models with sufficient large cardinals we can construct models with determinacy or inner-model-theoretic fine structure and vice versa. And while we have relative consistency results and equiconsistencies and even mutual interpretations, we will have no nontrivial bi-interpretations.

(I had proved the theorem a few weeks ago in joint work with Alfredo Roque Freire, who is visiting me in New York this year. We subsequently learned, however, that this was a rediscovery of results that have evidently been proved independently by various authors. Albert Visser proves the case of PA in his paper, “Categories of theories and interpretations,” Logic in Tehran, 284–341, Lect. Notes Log., 26, Assoc. Symbol. Logic, La Jolla, CA, 2006, (pdf, see pp. 52-55). Ali Enayat gave a nice model-theoretic argument for showing specifically that ZF and ZFC are not bi-interpretable, using the fact that ZFC models can have no involutions in their automorphism groups, but ZF models can; and he proved the general version of the theorem, for ZF, second-order arithmetic $Z_2$ and second-order set theory KM in his 2016 article, A. Enayat, “Variations on a Visserian theme,” in Liber Amicorum Alberti : a tribute to Albert Visser / Jan van Eijck, Rosalie Iemhoff and Joost J. Joosten (eds.) Pages, 99-110. ISBN, 978-1848902046. College Publications, London. The ZF version was apparently also observed independently by Harvey Friedman, Visser and Fedor Pakhomov.)

Meanwhile, let me explain our argument. Recall from model theory that one theory $S$ is interpreted in another theory $T$, if in any model of the latter theory $M\models T$, we can define (and uniformly so in any such model) a certain domain $N\subset M^k$ and relations and functions on that domain so as to make $N$ a model of $S$. For example, the theory of algebraically closed fields of characteristic zero is interpreted in the theory of real-closed fields, since in any real-closed field $R$, we can consider pairs $(a,b)$, thinking of them as $a+bi$, and define addition and multiplication on those pairs in such a way so as to construct an algebraically closed field of characteristic zero.

Two theories are thus mutually interpretable, if each of them is interpretable in the other. Such theories are necessarily equiconsistent, since from any model of one of them we can produce a model of the other.

Note that mutual interpretability, however, does not insist that the two translations are inverse to each other, even up to isomorphism. One can start with a model of the first theory $M\models T$ and define the interpreted model $N\models S$ of the second theory, which has a subsequent model of the first theory again $\bar M\models T$ inside it. But the definition does not insist on any particular connection between $M$ and $\bar M$, and these models need not be isomorphic nor even elementarily equivalent in general.

By addressing this, one arrives at a stronger and more robust form of mutual interpretability. Namely, two theories $S$ and $T$ are bi-interpretable, if they are mutually interpretable in such a way that the models can see that the interpretations are inverse. That is, for any model $M$ of the theory $T$, if one defines the interpreted model $N\models S$ inside it, and then defines the interpreted model $\bar M$ of $T$ inside $N$, then $M$ is isomorphic to $\bar M$ by a definable isomorphism in $M$, and uniformly so (and the same with the theories in the other direction). Thus, every model of one of the theories can see exactly how it itself arises definably in the interpreted model of the other theory.

For example, the theory of linear orders $\leq$ is bi-interpretable with the theory of strict linear order $<$, since from any linear order $\leq$ we can define the corresponding strict linear order $<$ on the same domain, and from any strict linear order $<$ we can define the corresponding linear order $\leq$, and doing it twice brings us back again to the same order.

For a richer example, the theory PA is bi-interpretable with the finite set theory $\text{ZF}^{\neg\infty}$, where one drops the infinity axiom from ZF and replaces it with the negation of infinity, and where one has the $\in$-induction scheme in place of the foundation axiom. The interpretation is via the Ackerman encoding of hereditary finite sets in arithmetic, so that $n\mathrel{E} m$ just in case the $n^{th}$ binary digit of $m$ is $1$. If one starts with the standard model $\mathbb{N}$, then the resulting structure $\langle\mathbb{N},E\rangle$ is isomorphic to the set $\langle\text{HF},\in\rangle$ of hereditarily finite sets. More generally, by carrying out the Ackermann encoding in any model of PA, one thereby defines a model of $\text{ZF}^{\neg\infty}$, whose natural numbers are isomorphic to the original model of PA, and these translations make a bi-interpretation.

We are now ready to prove that this bi-interpretation situation does not occur with different set theories extending ZF.

Theorem. Distinct set theories extending ZF are never bi-interpretable. Indeed, there is not a single model-theoretic instance of bi-interpretation occurring with models of different set theories extending ZF.

Proof. I mean “distinct” here in the sense that the two theories are not logically equivalent; they do not have all the same theorems. Suppose that we have a bi-interpretation instance of the theories $S$ and $T$ extending ZF. That is, suppose we have a model $\langle M,\in\rangle\models T$ of the one theory, and inside $M$, we can define an interpreted model of the other theory $\langle N,\in^N\rangle\models S$, so the domain of $N$ is a definable class in $M$ and the membership relation $\in^N$ is a definable relation on that class in $M$; and furthermore, inside $\langle N,\in^N\rangle$, we have a definable structure $\langle\bar M,\in^{\bar M}\rangle$ which is a model of $T$ again and isomorphic to $\langle M,\in^M\rangle$ by an isomorphism that is definable in $\langle M,\in^M\rangle$. So $M$ can define the map $a\mapsto \bar a$ that forms an isomorphism of $\langle M,\in^M\rangle$ with $\langle \bar M,\in^{\bar M}\rangle$. Our argument will work whether we allow parameters in any of these definitions or not.

I claim that $N$ must think the ordinals of $\bar M$ are well-founded, for otherwise it would have some bounded cut $A$ in the ordinals of $\bar M$ with no least upper bound, and this set $A$ when pulled back pointwise by the isomorphism of $M$ with $\bar M$ would mean that $M$ has a cut in its own ordinals with no least upper bound; but this cannot happen in ZF.

If the ordinals of $N$ and $\bar M$ are isomorphic in $N$, then all three models have isomorphic ordinals in $M$, and in this case, $\langle M,\in^M\rangle$ thinks that $\langle N,\in^N\rangle$ is a well-founded extensional relation of rank $\text{Ord}$. Such a relation must be set-like (since there can be no least instance where the predecessors form a proper class), and so $M$ can perform the Mostowski collapse of $\in^N$, thereby realizing $N$ as a transitive class $N\subseteq M$ with $\in^N=\in^M\upharpoonright N$. Similarly, by collapsing we may assume $\bar M\subseteq N$ and $\in^{\bar M}=\in^M\upharpoonright\bar M$. So the situation consists of inner models $\bar M\subseteq N\subseteq M$ and $\langle \bar M,\in^M\rangle$ is isomorphic to $\langle M,\in^M\rangle$ in $M$. This is impossible unless all three models are identical, since a simple $\in^M$-induction shows that $\pi(y)=y$ for all $y$, because if this is true for the elements of $y$, then $\pi(y)=\{\pi(x)\mid x\in y\}=\{x\mid x\in y\}=y$. So $\bar M=N=M$ and so $N$ and $M$ satisfy the same theory, contrary to assumption.

If the ordinals of $\bar M$ are isomorphic to a proper initial segment of the ordinals of $N$, then a similar Mostowski collapse argument would show that $\langle\bar M,\in^{\bar M}\rangle$ is isomorphic in $N$ to a transitive set in $N$. Since this structure in $N$ would have a truth predicate in $N$, we would be able to pull this back via the isomorphism to define (from parameters) a truth predicate for $M$ in $M$, contrary to Tarski’s theorem on the non-definability of truth.

The remaining case occurs when the ordinals of $N$ are isomorphic in $N$ to an initial segment of the ordinals of $\bar M$. But this would mean that from the perspective of $M$, the model $\langle N,\in^N\rangle$ has some ordinal rank height, which would mean by the Mostowski collapse argument that $M$ thinks $\langle N,\in^N\rangle$ is isomorphic to a transitive set. But this contradicts the fact that $M$ has an injection of $M$ into $N$. $\Box$

It follows that although ZF and ZFC are equiconsistent, they are not bi-interpretable. Similarly, ZFC and ZFC+CH and ZFC+$\neg$CH are equiconsistent, but no pair of them is bi-interpretable. And again with all the various equiconsistency results concerning large cardinals.

A similar argument works with PA to show that different extensions of PA are never bi-interpretable.

Nonamalgamation in the Cohen generic multiverse, CUNY Logic Workshop, March 2018

This will be a talk for the CUNY Logic Workshop on March 23, 2018, GC 6417 2-3:30pm.

Abstract. Consider a countable model of set theory $M$ in the context of all its successive forcing extensions and grounds. This generic multiverse has long been known to exhibit instances of nonamalgamation: one can have two extensions $M[c]$ and $M[d]$, both adding a merely a generic Cohen real, which have no further extension in common. In this talk, I shall describe new joint work that illuminates the extent of non-amalgamation: every finite partial order (and more) embeds into the generic multiverse over any given model in a way that preserves amalgamability and non-amalgamability. The proof uses the set-theoretic blockchain argument (pictured above), which has affinities with constructions in computability theory in the Turing degrees. Other arguments, which also resemble counterparts in computability theory, show that the generic multiverse exhibits the exact pair phenonemon for increasing chains. This is joint work with Miha Habič, myself, Lukas Daniel Klausner and Jonathan Verner. The paper will be available this Spring.

The modal logic of arithmetic potentialism and the universal algorithm

  • J. D. Hamkins, “The modal logic of arithmetic potentialism and the universal algorithm,” ArXiv e-prints, pp. 1-35, 2018. (under review)  
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Abstract. Natural potentialist systems arise from the models of arithmetic when they are considered under their various natural extension concepts, such as end-extensions, arbitrary extension, $\Sigma_n$-elementary extensions, conservative extensions and more. For these potentialist systems, I prove, a propositional modal assertion is valid in a model of arithmetic, with respect to assertions in the language of arithmetic with parameters, exactly when it is an assertion of S4. Meanwhile, with respect to sentences, the validities of a model are always between S4 and S5, and these bounds are sharp in that both endpoints are realized. The models validating exactly S5 are the models of the arithmetic maximality principle, which asserts that every possibly necessary statement is already true, and these models are equivalently characterized as those satisfying a maximal $\Sigma_1$ theory. The main proof makes fundamental use of the universal algorithm, of which this article provides a self-contained account.

 

In this article, I consider the models of arithmetic under various natural extension concepts, including end-extensions, arbitrary extensions, $\Sigma_n$-elementary extensions, conservative extensions and more. Each extension concept gives rise to an arithmetic potentialist system, a Kripke model of possible arithmetic worlds, and the main goal is to discover the modal validities of these systems.

For most of the extension concepts, a modal assertion is valid with respect to assertions in the language of arithmetic, allowing parameters, exactly when it is an assertion of the modal theory S4. For sentences, however, the modal validities form a theory between S4 and S5, with both endpoints being realized. A model of arithmetic validates S5 with respect to sentences just in case it is a model of the arithmetic maximality principle, and these models are equivalently characterized as those realizing a maximal $\Sigma_1$ theory.

The main argument relies fundamentally on the universal algorithm, the theorem due to Woodin that there is a Turing machine program that can enumerate any finite sequence in the right model of arithmetic, and furthermore this model can be end-extended so as to realize any further extension of that sequence available in the model. In the paper, I give a self-contained account of this theorem using my simplified proof.

The paper concludes with philosophical remarks on the nature of potentialism, including a discussion of how the linear inevitability form of potentialism is actually much closer to actualism than the more radical forms of potentialism, which exhibit branching possibility. I also propose to view the philosphy of ultrafinitism in modal terms as a form of potentialism, pushing the issue of branching possibility in ultrafinitism to the surface.

Self reference in computability theory and the universal algorithm, Ouroboros: Formal Criteria of Self-Reference in Mathematics and Philosophy, Bonn, February 2018

This will be a talk for the conference: Ouroboros: Formal Criteria of Self-Reference in Mathematics and Philosophy, held in Bonn, February 16-18, 2018.

Abstract. I shall give an elementary account of the universal algorithm, due to Woodin, showing how the capacity for self-reference in arithmetic gives rise to a Turing machine program $e$, which provably enumerates a finite set of numbers, but which can in principle enumerate any finite set of numbers, when it is run in a suitable model of arithmetic. Furthermore, the algorithm can successively enumerate any desired extension of the sequence, when run in a suitable top-extension of the universe. Thus, the algorithm sheds some light on the debate between free will and determinism, if one should imagine extending the universe into a nonstandard time scale. An analogous result holds in set theory, where Woodin and I have provided a universal locally definable finite set, which can in principle be any finite set, in the right universe, and which can furthermore be successively extended to become any desired finite superset of that set in a suitable top-extension of that universe.

Ouroboros Bonn 2018 Conference Poster | Slides

The universal finite set

  • J. D. Hamkins and H. W. Woodin, “The universal finite set,” ArXiv e-prints, pp. 1-16, 2017. (manuscript under review)  
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Abstract. We define a certain finite set in set theory $\{x\mid\varphi(x)\}$ and prove that it exhibits a universal extension property: it can be any desired particular finite set in the right set-theoretic universe and it can become successively any desired larger finite set in top-extensions of that universe. Specifically, ZFC proves the set is finite; the definition $\varphi$ has complexity $\Sigma_2$, so that any affirmative instance of it $\varphi(x)$ is verified in any sufficiently large rank-initial segment of the universe $V_\theta$; the set is empty in any transitive model and others; and if $\varphi$ defines the set $y$ in some countable model $M$ of ZFC and $y\subseteq z$ for some finite set $z$ in $M$, then there is a top-extension of $M$ to a model $N$ in which $\varphi$ defines the new set $z$. Thus, the set shows that no model of set theory can realize a maximal $\Sigma_2$ theory with its natural number parameters, although this is possible without parameters. Using the universal finite set, we prove that the validities of top-extensional set-theoretic potentialism, the modal principles valid in the Kripke model of all countable models of set theory, each accessing its top-extensions, are precisely the assertions of S4. Furthermore, if ZFC is consistent, then there are models of ZFC realizing the top-extensional maximality principle.

Woodin had established the universal algorithm phenomenon, showing that there is a Turing machine program with a certain universal top-extension property in models of arithmetic (see also work of Blanck and Enayat 2017 and upcoming paper of mine with Gitman and Kossak; also my post The universal algorithm: a new simple proof of Woodin’s theorem). Namely, the program provably enumerates a finite set of natural numbers, but it is relatively consistent with PA that it enumerates any particular desired finite set of numbers, and furthermore, if $M$ is any model of PA in which the program enumerates the set $s$ and $t$ is any (possibly nonstandard) finite set in $M$ with $s\subseteq t$, then there is a top-extension of $M$ to a model $N$ in which the program enumerates exactly the new set $t$. So it is a universal finite computably enumerable set, which can in principle be any desired finite set of natural numbers in the right arithmetic universe and become any desired larger finite set in a suitable larger arithmetic universe.

I had inquired whether there is a set-theoretic analogue of this phenomenon, using $\Sigma_2$ definitions in set theory in place of computable enumerability (see The universal definition — it can define any mathematical object you like, in the right set-theoretic universe). The idea was that just as a computably enumerable set is one whose elements are gradually revealed as the computation proceeds, a $\Sigma_2$-definable set in set theory is precisely one whose elements become verified at some level $V_\theta$ of the cumulative set-theoretic hierarchy as it grows. In this sense, $\Sigma_2$ definability in set theory is analogous to computable enumerability in arithmetic.

Main Question. Is there a universal $\Sigma_2$ definition in set theory, one which can define any desired particular set in some model of \ZFC\ and always any desired further set in a suitable top-extension?

I had noticed in my earlier post that one can do this using a $\Pi_3$ definition, or with a $\Sigma_2$ definition, if one restricts to models of a certain theory, such as $V\neq\text{HOD}$ or the eventual GCH, or if one allows $\{x\mid\varphi(x)\}$ sometimes to be a proper class.

Here, we provide a fully general affirmative answer with the following theorem.

Main Theorem. There is a formula $\varphi(x)$ of complexity $\Sigma_2$ in the language of set theory, provided in the proof, with the following properties:

  1. ZFC proves that $\{x\mid \varphi(x)\}$ is a finite set.
  2. In any transitive model of \ZFC\ and others, this set is empty.
  3. If $M$ is a countable model of ZFC in which $\varphi$ defines the set $y$ and $z\in M$ is any finite set in $M$ with $y\subseteq z$, then there is a top-extension of $M$ to a model $N$ in which $\varphi$ defines exactly $z$.

By taking the union of the set defined by $\varphi$, an arbitrary set can be achieved; so the finite-set result as stated in the main theorem implies the arbitrary set case as in the main question. One can also easily deduce a version of the theorem to give a universal countable set or a universal set of some other size (for example, just take the union of the countable elements of the universal set). One can equivalently formulate the main theorem in terms of finite sequences, rather than sets, so that the sequence is extended as desired in the top-extension. The sets $y$ and $z$ in statement (3) may be nonstandard finite, if $M$ if $\omega$-nonstandard.

We use this theorem to establish the fundamental validities of top-extensional set-theoretic potentialism. Specifically, in the potentialist system consisting of the countable models of ZFC, with each accessing its top extensions, the modal validities with respect to substitution instances in the language of set theory, with parameters, are exactly the assertions of S4. When only sentences are considered, the validities are between S4 and S5, with both endpoints realized.

In particular, we prove that if ZFC is consistent, then there is a model $M$ of ZFC with the top-extensional maximality principle: any sentence $\sigma$ in the language of set theory which is true in some top extension $M^+$ and all further top extensions of $M^+$, is already true in $M$.

This principle is true is any model of set theory with a maximal $\Sigma_2$ theory, but it is never true when $\sigma$ is allowed to have natural-number parameters, and in particular, it is never true in any $\omega$-standard model of set theory.

Click through to the arXiv for more, the full article in pdf.

  • J. D. Hamkins and H. W. Woodin, “The universal finite set,” ArXiv e-prints, pp. 1-16, 2017. (manuscript under review)  
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    title = {The universal finite set},
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Models of set theory with the same reals and the same cardinals, but which disagree on the continuum hypothesis

Terry_Marks,_Nightmare_in_a_MirrorI’d like to describe a certain interesting and surprising situation that can happen with models of set theory.

Theorem. If $\newcommand\ZFC{\text{ZFC}}\ZFC$ set theory is consistent, then there are two models of $\ZFC$ set theory $M$ and $N$ for which

  • $M$ and $N$ have the same real numbers $$\newcommand\R{\mathbb{R}}\R^M=\R^N.$$
  • $M$ and $N$ have the ordinals and the same cardinals $$\forall\alpha\qquad \aleph_\alpha^M=\aleph_\alpha^N$$
  • But $M$ thinks that the continuum hypothesis $\newcommand\CH{\text{CH}}\CH$ is true, while $N$ thinks that $\CH$ is false.

This is a little strange, since the two models have the set $\R$ in common and they agree on the cardinal numbers, but $M$ thinks that $\R$ has size $\aleph_1$ and $N$ will think that $\R$ has size $\aleph_2$.  In particular, $M$ can well-order the reals in order type $\omega_1$ and $N$ can do so in order-type $\omega_2$, even though the two models have the same reals and they agree that these order types have different cardinalities.

Another abstract way to describe what is going on is that even if two models of set theory, even transitive models, agree on which ordinals are cardinals, they needn’t agree on which sets are equinumerous, for sets they have in common, even for the reals.

Let me emphasize that it is the requirement that the models have the same cardinals that makes the problem both subtle and surprising. If you drop that requirement, then the problem is an elementary exercise in forcing: start with any model $V$, and first force $\CH$ to fail in $V[H]$ by adding a lot of Cohen reals, then force to $V[G]$ by collapsing the continuum to $\aleph_1$. This second step adds no new reals and forces $\CH$, and so $V[G]$ and $V[H]$ will have the same reals, while $V[H]$ thinks $\CH$ is true and $V[G]$ thinks $\CH$ is false. The problem becomes nontrivial and interesting mainly when you insist that cardinals are not collapsed.

In fact, the situation described in the theorem can be forced over any given model of $\ZFC$.

Theorem. Every model of set theory $V\models\ZFC$ has two set-forcing extensions $V[G]$ and $V[H]$ for which

  • $V[G]$ and $V[H]$ have the same real numbers $$\newcommand\R{\mathbb{R}}\R^{V[G]}=\R^{V[H]}.$$
  • $V[G]$ and $V[H]$ have the same cardinals $$\forall\alpha\qquad \aleph_\alpha^{V[G]}=\aleph_\alpha^{V[H]}$$
  • But $V[G]$ thinks that the continuum hypothesis $\CH$ is true, while $V[H]$ thinks that $\CH$ is false.

Proof. Start in any model $V\models\ZFC$, and by forcing if necessary, let’s assume $\CH$ holds in $V$. Let $H\subset\text{Add}(\omega,\omega_2)$ be $V$-generic for the forcing to add $\omega_2$ many Cohen reals. So $V[H]$ satisfies $\neg\CH$ and has the same ordinals and cardinals as $V$.

Next, force over $V[H]$ using the forcing from $V$ to collapse $\omega_2$ to $\omega_1$, forming the extension $V[H][g]$, where $g$ is the generic bijection between those ordinals. Since we used the forcing in $V$, which is countably closed there, it makes sense to consider $V[g]$.  In this extension, the forcing $\text{Add}(\omega,\omega_1^V)$ and $\text{Add}(\omega,\omega_2^V)$ are isomorphic. Since $H$ is $V[g]$-generic for the latter, let $G=g\mathrel{“}H$ be the image of this filter in $\text{Add}(\omega,\omega_1)$, which is therefore $V[g]$-generic for the former. So $V[g][G]=V[g][H]$. Since the forcing $\text{Add}(\omega,\omega_1)$ is c.c.c., it follows that $V[G]$ also has the same cardinals as $V$ and hence also the same as in $V[H]$.

If we now view these extensions as $V[G][g]=V[H][g]$ and note that the coutable closure of $g$ in $V$ implies that $g$ adds no new reals over either $V[G]$ or $V[H]$, it follows that $\R^{V[G]}=\R^{V[H]}$. So the two models have the same reals and the same cardinals. But $V[G]$ has $\CH$ and $V[H]$ has $\neg\CH$, in light of the forcing, and so the proof is complete. QED

Let me prove the following surprising generalization.

Theorem. If $V$ is any model of $\ZFC$ and $V[G]$ is the forcing extension obtained by adding $\kappa$ many Cohen reals, for some uncountable $\kappa$, then for any other uncountable cardinal $\lambda$, there is another forcing extension $V[H]$ where $H$ is $V$-generic for the forcing to add $\lambda$ many Cohen reals, yet $\R^{V[G]}=\R^{V[H]}$.

Proof. Start in $V[G]$, and let $g$ be $V[G]$-generic to collapse $\lambda$ to $\kappa$, using the collapse forcing of the ground model $V$. This forcing is countably closed in $V$ and therefore does not add reals over $V[G]$. In $V[g]$, the two forcing notions $\text{Add}(\omega,\kappa)$ and $\text{Add}(\omega,\lambda)$ are isomorphic. Thus, since $G$ is $V[g]$-generic for the former poset, it follows that the image $H=g\mathrel{“}G$ is $V[g]$-generic for the latter poset. So $V[H]$ is generic over $V$ for adding $\lambda$ many Cohen reals. By construction, we have $V[G][g]=V[H][g]$, and since $g$ doesn’t add reals, it follows that $\R^{V[G]}=\R^{V[H]}$, as desired. QED

I have a vague recollection of having first heard of this problem many years ago, perhaps as a graduate student, although I don’t quite recall where it was or indeed what the construction was — the argument above is my reconstruction (which I have updated and extended from my initial post). If someone could provide a reference in the comments for due credit, I’d be appreciative.  The problem appeared a few years ago on MathOverflow.

The inclusion relations of the countable models of set theory are all isomorphic

  • J. D. Hamkins and M. Kikuchi, “The inclusion relations of the countable models of set theory are all isomorphic,” ArXiv e-prints, 2017. (manuscript under review)  
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mereology type

Abstract. The structures $\langle M,\newcommand\of{\subseteq}\of^M\rangle$ arising as the inclusion relation of a countable model of sufficient set theory $\langle M,\in^M\rangle$, whether well-founded or not, are all isomorphic. These structures $\langle M,\of^M\rangle$ are exactly the countable saturated models of the theory of set-theoretic mereology: an unbounded atomic relatively complemented distributive lattice. A very weak set theory suffices, even finite set theory, provided that one excludes the $\omega$-standard models with no infinite sets and the $\omega$-standard models of set theory with an amorphous set. Analogous results hold also for class theories such as Gödel-Bernays set theory and Kelley-Morse set theory.

Set-theoretic mereology is the study of the inclusion relation $\of$ as it arises within set theory. In any set-theoretic context, with the set membership relation $\in$, one may define the corresponding inclusion relation $\of$ and investigate its properties. Thus, every model of set theory $\langle M,\in^M\rangle$ gives rise to a corresponding model of set-theoretic mereology $\langle M,\of^M\rangle$, the reduct to the inclusion relation.

In our previous article,

J. D. Hamkins and M. Kikuchi, Set-theoretic mereology, Logic and Logical Philosophy, special issue “Mereology and beyond, part II”, vol. 25, iss. 3, pp. 1-24, 2016.

we had identified exactly the complete theory of these mereological structures $\langle M,\of^M\rangle$. Namely, if $\langle M,\in^M\rangle$ is a model of set theory, even for extremely weak theories, including set theory without the infinity axiom, then the corresponding mereological reduct $\langle M,\of^M\rangle$ is an unbounded atomic relatively complemented distributive lattice. We call this the theory of set-theoretic mereology. By a quantifier-elimination argument that we give in our earlier paper, partaking of Tarski’s Boolean-algebra invariants and Ersov’s work on lattices, this theory is complete, finitely axiomatizable and decidable.  We had proved among other things that $\in$ is never definable from $\of$ in any model of set theory and furthermore, some models of set-theoretic mereology can arise as the inclusion relation of diverse models of set theory, with different theories. Furthermore, we proved that $\langle\text{HF},\subseteq\rangle\prec\langle V,\subseteq\rangle$.

After that work, we found it natural to inquire:

Question. Which models of set-theoretic mereology arise as the inclusion relation $\of$ of a model of set theory?

More precisely, given a model $\langle M,\newcommand\sqof{\sqsubseteq}\sqof\rangle$ of set-theoretic mereology, under what circumstances can we place a binary relation $\in^M$ on $M$ in such a way that $\langle M,\in^M\rangle$ is a model of set theory and the inclusion relation $\of$ defined in $\langle M,\in^M\rangle$ is precisely the given relation $\sqof$? One can view this question as seeking a kind of Stone-style representation of the mereological structure $\langle M,\sqof\rangle$, because such a model $M$ would provide a representation of $\langle M,\sqof\rangle$ as a relative field of sets via the model of set theory $\langle M,\in^M\rangle$.

A second natural question was to wonder how much of the theory of the original model of set theory can be recovered from the mereological reduct.

Question. If $\langle M,\of^M\rangle$ is the model of set-theoretic mereology arising as the inclusion relation $\of$ of a model of set theory $\langle M,\in^M\rangle$, what part of the theory of $\langle M,\in^M\rangle$ is determined by the structure $\langle M,\of^M\rangle$?

In the case of the countable models of ZFC, these questions are completely answered by our main theorems.

Main Theorems.

  1. All countable models of set theory $\langle M,\in^M\rangle\models\text{ZFC}$ have isomorphic reducts $\langle M,\of^M\rangle$ to the inclusion relation.
  2. The same holds for models of considerably weaker theories such as KP and even finite set theory, provided one excludes the $\omega$-standard models without infinite sets and the $\omega$-standard models having an amorphous set.
  3. These inclusion reducts $\langle M,\of^M\rangle$ are precisely the countable saturated models of set-theoretic mereology.
  4. Similar results hold for class theory: all countable models of Gödel-Bernays set theory have isomorphic reducts to the inclusion relation, and this reduct is precisely the countably infinite saturated atomic Boolean algebra.

Specifically, we show that the mereological reducts $\langle M,\of^M\rangle$ of the models of sufficient set theory are always $\omega$-saturated, and from this it follows on general model-theoretic grounds that they are all isomorphic, establishing statements (1) and (2). So a countable model $\langle M,\sqof\rangle$ of set-theoretic mereology arises as the inclusion relation of a model of sufficient set theory if and only if it is $\omega$-saturated, establishing (3) and answering the first question. Consequently, in addition, the mereological reducts $\langle M,\of^M\rangle$ of the countable models of sufficient set theory know essentially nothing of the theory of the structure $\langle M,\in^M\rangle$ from which they arose, since $\langle M,\of^M\rangle$ arises equally as the inclusion relation of other models $\langle M,\in^*\rangle$ with any desired sufficient alternative set theory, a fact which answers the second question. Our analysis works with very weak set theories, even finite set theory, provided one excludes the $\omega$-standard models with no infinite sets and the $\omega$-standard models with an amorphous set, since the inclusion reducts of these models are not $\omega$-saturated. We also prove that most of these results do not generalize to uncountable models, nor even to the $\omega_1$-like models.

Our results have some affinity with the classical results in models of arithmetic concerned with the additive reducts of models of PA. Restricting a model of set theory to the inclusion relation $\of$ is, after all, something like restricting a model of arithmetic to its additive part. Lipshitz and Nadel (1978) proved that a countable model of Presburger arithmetic (with $+$ only) can be expanded to a model of PA if and only if it is computably saturated. We had hoped at first to prove a corresponding result for the mereological reducts of the models of set theory. In arithmetic, the additive reducts are not all isomorphic, since the standard system of the PA model is fully captured by the additive reduct. Our main result for the countable models of set theory, however, turned out to be stronger than we had expected, since the inclusion reducts are not merely computably saturated, but fully $\omega$-saturated, and this is why they are all isomorphic. Meanwhile, Lipshitz and Nadel point out that their result does not generalize to uncountable models of arithmetic, and similarly ours also does not generalize to uncountable models of set theory.

The work leaves the following question open:

Question. Are the mereological reducts $\langle M,\of^M\rangle$ of all the countable models $\langle M,\in^M\rangle$ of ZF with an amorphous set all isomorphic?

We expect the answer to come from a deeper understanding of the Tarski-Ersov invariants for the mereological structures combined with knowledge of models of ZF with amorphous sets.

This is joint work with Makoto Kikuchi.

All countable models of set theory have the same inclusion relation up to isomorphism, CUNY Logic Workshop, April 2017

This will be a talk for the CUNY Logic Workshop, April 28, 2:00-3:30 in room 6417 at the CUNY Graduate Center.

mereology type

Abstract.  Take any countable model of set theory $\langle M,\in^M\rangle\models\text{ZFC}$, whether well-founded or not, and consider the corresponding inclusion relation $\langle M,\newcommand\of{\subseteq}\of^M\rangle$.  All such models, we prove, are isomorphic. Indeed, if $\langle M,\in^M\rangle$ is a countable model of set theory — a very weak theory suffices, including finite set theory, if one excludes the $\omega$-standard models with no infinite sets and the $\omega$-standard models with an amorphous set — then the corresponding inclusion reduct $\langle M,\of^M\rangle$ is an $\omega$-saturated model of the theory we have called set-theoretic mereology. Since this is a complete theory, it follows by the back-and-forth construction that all such countable saturated models are isomorphic. Thus, the inclusion relation $\langle M,\of^M\rangle$ knows essentially nothing about the theory of the set-theoretic structure $\langle M,\in^M\rangle$ from which it arose. Analogous results hold also for class theories such as Gödel-Bernays set theory and Kelley-Morse set theory.

This is joint work with Makoto Kikuchi, and our paper is available at

J. D. Hamkins and M. Kikuchi, The inclusion relations of the countable models of set theory are all isomorphic, manuscript under review.

Our previous work, upon which these results build, is available at:

J. D. Hamkins and M. Kikuchi, Set-theoretic mereology, Logic and Logical Philosophy, special issue “Mereology and beyond, part II”, vol. 25, iss. 3, pp. 1-24, 2016.

Same structure, different truths, Stanford University CSLI, May 2016

This will be a talk for the Workshop on Logic, Rationality, and Intelligent Interaction at the CSLI, Stanford University, May 27-28, 2016.

Abstract. To what extent does a structure determine its theory of truth? I shall discuss several surprising mathematical results illustrating senses in which it does not, for the satisfaction relation of first-order logic is less absolute than one might have expected. Two models of set theory, for example, can have exactly the same natural numbers and the same arithmetic structure $\langle\mathbb{N},+,\cdot,0,1,<\rangle$, yet disagree on what is true in this structure; they have the same arithmetic, but different theories of arithmetic truth; two models of set theory can have the same natural numbers and a computable linear order in common, yet disagree on whether it is a well-order; two models of set theory can have the same natural numbers and the same reals, yet disagree on projective truth; two models of set theory can have a rank initial segment of the universe $\langle V_\delta,{\in}\rangle$ in common, yet disagree about whether it is a model of ZFC. These theorems and others can be proved with elementary classical model-theoretic methods, which I shall explain. Indefinite arithmetic truthOn the basis of these observations, Ruizhi Yang (Fudan University, Shanghai) and I argue that the definiteness of the theory of truth for a structure, even in the case of arithmetic, cannot be seen as arising solely from the definiteness of the structure itself in which that truth resides, but rather is a higher-order ontological commitment.

Slides | Main article: Satisfaction is not absolute | CLSI 2016 | Abstract at CLSI