# The Wordle and Absurdle numbers, CUNY Logic Workshop, November 2023

This will be a talk for the CUNY Logic Workshop, 17 November 2023.

Abstract. We consider the game of infinite Wordle as played on Baire space $\omega^\omega$. The codebreaker can win in finitely many moves against any countable dictionary $\Delta\subseteq\omega^\omega$, but not against the full dictionary of Baire space. The Wordle number is the size of the smallest dictionary admitting such a winning strategy for the codebreaker, the corresponding Wordle ideal is the ideal generated by these dictionaries, which under MA includes all dictionaries of size less than the continuum. The Absurdle number, meanwhile, is the size of the smallest dictionary admitting a winning strategy for the absurdist in the two-player variant, infinite Absurdle. In ZFC there are nondetermined Absurdle games, with neither player having a winning strategy, but if one drops the axiom of choice, then the principle of Absurdle determinacy has large cardinal consistency strength over ZF+DC. This is joint work in progress with Ben De Bondt (Paris).

Lecture notes are available:

# Infinite Wordle and the mastermind numbers, CUNY Logic Workshop, March 2022

This will be an in-person talk for the CUNY Logic Workshop at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York on 11 March 2022.

Abstract. I shall introduce and consider the natural infinitary variations of Wordle, Absurdle, and Mastermind. Infinite Wordle extends the familiar finite game to infinite words and transfinite play—the code-breaker aims to discover a hidden codeword selected from a dictionary $\Delta\subseteq\Sigma^\omega$ of infinite words over a countable alphabet $\Sigma$ by making a sequence of successive guesswords, receiving feedback after each guess concerning its accuracy. For any dictionary using the usual 26-letter alphabet, for example, the code-breaker can win in at most 26 guesses, and more generally in $n$ guesses for alphabets of finite size $n$. Meanwhile, for some dictionaries on an infinite alphabet, infinite play is required, but the code-breaker can always win by stage $\omega$ on a countable alphabet, for any fixed dictionary. Infinite Mastermind, in contrast, is a subtler game than Wordle because only the number and not the position of correct bits is given. When duplication of colors is allowed, nevertheless, the code-breaker can still always win by stage $\omega$, but in the no-duplication variation, no countable number of guesses (even transfinite) is sufficient for the code-breaker to win. I therefore introduce the mastermind number, denoted $\frak{mm}$, defined to be the size of the smallest winning no-duplication Mastermind guessing set, a new cardinal characteristic of the continuum, which I prove is bounded below by the additivity number $\text{add}(\mathcal{M})$ of the meager ideal and bounded above by the covering number $\text{cov}(\mathcal{M})$. In particular, the precise value of the mastermind number is independent of ZFC and can consistently be strictly between $\aleph_1$ and the continuum $2^{\aleph_0}$. In simplified Mastermind, where the feedback given at each stage includes only the numbers of correct and incorrect bits (omitting information about rearrangements), then the corresponding simplified mastermind number is exactly the eventually different number $\frak{d}(\neq^*)$.

I am preparing an article on the topic, which will be available soon.

# Recent progress on the modal logic of forcing and grounds, CUNY Logic Workshop, September 2012

This will be a talk for the CUNY Logic Workshop on September 7, 2012.

Abstract. The modal logic of forcing arises when one considers a model of set theory in the context of all its forcing extensions, with “true in all forcing extensions” and“true in some forcing extension” as the accompanying modal operators. In this modal language one may easily express sweeping general forcing principles, such asthe assertion that every possibly necessary statement is necessarily possible, which is valid for forcing, orthe assertion that every possibly necessary statement is true, which is the maximality principle, a forcing axiom independent of but equiconsistent with ZFC.  Similarly, the dual modal logic of grounds concerns the modalities “true in all ground models” and “true in some ground model”.  In this talk, I shall survey the recent progress on the modal logic of forcing and the modal logic of grounds. This is joint work with Benedikt Loewe and George Leibman.

# The countable models of ZFC, up to isomorphism, are linearly pre-ordered by the submodel relation; indeed, every countable model of ZFC, including every transitive model, is isomorphic to a submodel of its own $L$, New York, 2012

This will be a talk on May 18, 2012 for the CUNY Logic Workshop on some extremely new work. The proof uses finitary digraph combinatorics, including the countable random digraph and higher analogues involving uncountable Fraisse limits, the surreal numbers and the hypnagogic digraph.

The story begins with Ressayre’s remarkable 1983 result that if $M$ is any nonstandard model of PA, with $\langle\text{HF}^M,{\in^M}\rangle$ the corresponding nonstandard hereditary finite sets of $M$, then for any consistent computably axiomatized theory $T$ in the language of set theory, with $T\supset ZF$, there is a submodel $N\subset\langle\text{HF}^M,{\in^M}\rangle$ such that $N\models T$. In particular, one may find models of ZFC or even ZFC + large cardinals as submodels of $\text{HF}^M$, a land where everything is thought to be finite. Incredible! Ressayre’s proof uses partial saturation and resplendency to prove that one can find the submodel of the desired theory $T$.

My new theorem strengthens Ressayre’s theorem, while simplifying the proof, by removing the theory $T$. We need not assume $T$ is computable, and we don’t just get one model of $T$, but rather all models—the fact is that the nonstandard models of set theory are universal for all countable acyclic binary relations. So every model of set theory is a submodel of $\langle\text{HF}^M,{\in^M}\rangle$.

Theorem.(JDH) Every countable model of set theory is isomorphic to a submodel of any nonstandard model of finite set theory. Indeed, every nonstandard model of finite set theory is universal for all countable acyclic binary relations.

The proof involves the construction of what I call the countable random $\mathbb{Q}$-graded digraph, a countable homogeneous acyclic digraph that is universal for all countable acyclic digraphs, and proving that it is realized as a submodel of the nonstandard model $\langle M,\in^M\rangle$. Having then realized a universal object as a submodel, it follows that every countable structure with an acyclic binary relation, including every countable model of ZFC, is realized as a submodel of $M$.

The proof, in brief:  for every countable acyclic digraph, consider the partial order induced by the edge relation, and extend this order to a total order, which may be embedded in the rational order $\mathbb{Q}$.  Thus, every countable acyclic digraph admits a $\mathbb{Q}$-grading, an assignmment of rational numbers to nodes such that all edges point upwards. Next, one can build a countable homogeneous, universal, existentially closed $\mathbb{Q}$-graded digraph, simply by starting with nothing, and then adding finitely many nodes at each stage, so as to realize the finite pattern property. The result is a computable presentation of what I call the countable random $\mathbb{Q}$-graded digraph $\Gamma$.  If $M$ is any nonstandard model of finite set theory, then we may run this computable construction inside $M$ for a nonstandard number of steps.  The standard part of this nonstandard finite graph includes a copy of $\Gamma$.  Furthermore, since $M$ thinks it is finite and acyclic, it can perform a modified Mostowski collapse to realize the graph in the hereditary finite sets of $M$.  By looking at the sets corresponding to the nodes in the copy of $\Gamma$, we find a submodel of $M$ that is isomorphic to $\Gamma$, which is universal for all countable acyclic binary relations. So every model of ZFC isomorphic to a submodel of $M$.

The proof idea adapts, with complications, to the case of well-founded models, via the countable random $\lambda$-graded digraph, as well as the internal construction of what I call the hypnagogic digraph, a proper class homogeneous surreal-numbers-graded digraph, which is universal for all class acyclic digraphs.

Theorem.(JDH) Every countable model $\langle M,\in^M\rangle$ of ZFC, including the transitive models, is isomorphic to a submodel of its own constructible universe $\langle L^M,\in^M\rangle$. In other words, there is an embedding $j:M\to L^M$ that is quantifier-free-elementary.

The proof is guided by the idea of finding a universal submodel inside $L^M$. The embedding $j$ is constructed completely externally to $M$.

Corollary.(JDH) The countable models of ZFC are linearly ordered and even well-ordered, up to isomorphism, by the submodel relation. Namely, any two countable models of ZFC with the same well-founded height are bi-embeddable as submodels of each other, and all models embed into any nonstandard model.

The work opens up numerous questions on the extent to which we may expect in ZFC that $V$ might be isomorphic to a subclass of $L$. To what extent can we expect to have or to refute embeddings $j:V\to L$, elementary for quantifier-free assertions?