## Wednesday, 16 January 2013

### Disjunction property implies existence property

A theory $$T$$ is said to have the disjunction property if whenever a sentence $$A \vee B$$ is provable then either $$A$$ is provable or $$B$$ is provable. It is important that $$A \vee B$$ is a sentence, i.e. no free variables, otherwise a simple counter-example would be $$A(x) = {\sf Even}(x)$$ and $$B(x) = {\sf Odd}(x)$$.

A theory $$T$$ is said to have the numerical existence property if whenever a sentence $$\exists n A(n)$$ is provable then $$A(n)$$ is provable for some numeral $$n$$.

Clearly if a theory has the numerical existence property it must also have the disjunction property, as, with a bit of arithmetic, one can write a disjunction $$A \vee B$$ using an existential quantifier as $$\exists n ( ( n = 0 \rightarrow A ) \wedge ( n \neq 0 \rightarrow B ) )$$.

Harvey Friedman proved in  the amazing result that these two properties are in fact equivalent.

Theorem. Any recursively enumerable extension of intuitionistic arithmetic which has the disjunction property must also have the numerical existence property.

Let us write $$\vdash_y x$$ for the binary predicate "$$y$$ is the code of a proof of the formula coded by $$x$$". If $$k$$ is the code of the formula $$A(x)$$ then we write $$Sub(k)$$ for the code of the formula $$A(k)$$. The code of a formula $$A$$ is sometimes written as $$\# A$$. Finally, we write $$\neg x$$ for $$\# \neg A$$ if $$x = \# A$$.

Let $$A(x)$$ be the formula $$\exists y ( ( (\vdash_y \neg x) \vee P(y) ) \wedge \forall z < y \not\vdash_z x)$$ which roughly says that "there exists a number $$y$$ such that either $$y$$ is a proof of $$\neg x$$ or $$P(y)$$ holds, and moreover, no proof of $$x$$ with code shorter than $$y$$ exists.

Let $$k$$ be a numeral such that $$\# A(Sub(k)) = Sub(k)$$, e.g. $$k = \# A(Sub(x))$$. Note that $$Sub(k)$$ behaves like a fixed point of $$A(x)$$ essentially for the same reasons as in my first post here on Kleene's recursion theorem. We are just replacing the self application of a function $$x (x)$$ by the "self-substitution" $$Sub(x)$$.

The main trick in Friedman's proof is the following:

Lemma 1. If $$T \vdash A(Sub(k))$$ then $$T \vdash P(n)$$, for some $$n$$.

Proof. Let us see how such witness $$n$$ comes naturally from a given proof of $$A(Sub(k))$$. Let $$n$$ be the code of a proof of $$A(Sub(k))$$. Then $$\vdash_n Sub(k)$$. By the definition of $$A$$ we also have that $$T$$ proves $$\exists y ( ( (\vdash_y \neg Sub(k)) \vee P(y) ) \wedge \forall z < y \not\vdash_z Sub(k)).$$ Hence, taking $$z = n$$ it follows that $$T$$ proves $$\exists y \leq n ((\vdash_y \neg Sub(k)) \vee P(y) ).$$ Obviously we can't have $$\exists y \leq n (\vdash_y \neg Sub(k))$$, or $$T$$ would be inconsistent. So, we must have that $$T$$ proves $$\exists y \leq n P(y)$$. Because $$n$$ is a numeral, this can be written as a big disjunction, and by the disjunction property $$P(m)$$ holds for some $$m \leq n$$. QED

So, if we are able to prove $$A(Sub(k))$$ then essentially the "size" of such proof would be a bound on some $$n$$ which witnesses $$P$$. It remains to show that if $$\exists y P(y)$$ is provable then so is $$A(Sub(k))$$. One must first show that $$\neg A(Sub(k))$$ is not provable.

Lemma 2. If $$T$$ proves $$\neg A(Sub(k))$$ then it also proves $$A(Sub(k))$$.

Proof. Assume $$T \vdash \neg A(Sub(k))$$. Then we have that some $$n$$ codes a proof of $$\neg A(Sub(k))$$, i.e. $$\vdash_n \neg A(Sub(k))$$. We consider two cases: Either $$\forall z < n \not\vdash_z Sub(k)$$, in which case $$A(Sub(k))$$ holds (a contradiction to the consistence of $$T$$ ), or $$\exists z < n \vdash_z Sub(k)$$, which also implies that $$A(Sub(k))$$ is provable. QED

Note that we might as well assume that $$T$$ is consistent, just because it is more sensible to work with consistent theories. Of course if $$T$$ is inconsistent then it proves everything and in particular will have both the disjunction and the existence property. So, assuming $$T$$ is consistent Lemma 2 says that $$\neg A(Sub(k))$$ is not provable.

The missing piece of the puzzle is the following:

Lemma 3. $$T$$ proves $$\exists y P(y) \rightarrow A(Sub(k)) \vee \exists z (\vdash_z Sub(k))$$.

Proof. Let $$y$$ be such that $$P(y)$$. Consider two cases: Either $$\forall z < y (\not\vdash_z Sub(k))$$, in which case we have $$A(Sub(k))$$; or $$\exists z < y (\vdash_z Sub(k))$$. QED

Note that if $$P(y)$$ is primitive recursive we can in fact conclude that $$T$$ proves $$\exists y P(y) \rightarrow A(Sub(k))$$, as follows. Assume that $$y$$ is the least such that $$(\vdash_y \neg Sub(k)) \vee P(y)$$ holds. That means $$((\vdash_y \neg Sub(k)) \vee P(y)) \wedge \forall z < y ((\not\vdash_z \neg Sub(k)) \wedge \neg P(z))$$ which implies $$A(Sub(k))$$.

This already gives us the result for primitive recursive $$P$$'s:

Lemma 4. If $$P$$ is primitive recursive and $$T \vdash \exists y P(y)$$ then $$T \vdash P(n)$$ for some $$n$$.

Proof. By the preceding remark we have $$T \vdash A(Sub(k))$$, which by Lemma 1 gives the desired witness $$n$$. QED

Finally all can be put together:

Proof of Theorem. Assume $$T$$ proves $$\exists y A(y)$$. By Lemma 3, $$T$$ proves $$A(Sub(k)) \vee \exists z (\vdash_z Sub(k))$$. By the disjunction property we have to cases: (1) $$T$$ proves $$A(Sub(k))$$, which by Lemma 1 implies $$T \vdash P(n)$$ for some $$n$$; or (2) $$T \vdash \exists z (\vdash_z Sub(k))$$. By Lemma 4 we have a witness $$n$$ such that $$\vdash_n Sub(k)$$, which is in fact a code for a proof of $$A(Sub(k))$$, and the same argument as in case (1) can be followed.

A short reflection on the proof: The proof essentially shows that given a concrete proof of $$\exists y P(y)$$ one can "calculate" a bound $$n$$ on $$y$$ simply using the algorithm for "calculating" the disjunction property. More precisely, let $$f_0, f_1$$ be functions such that $$\vdash_\pi A \vee B \implies \vdash_{f_0 \pi} A \mbox{ or } \vdash_{f_1 \pi} B.$$ Note that Lemma 1 says $$\vdash_n A(Sub(k)) \implies \vdash \exists y \leq n \, P(y).$$ Hence, in order to establish the relation between the size of the given proof $$\pi$$ of $$\exists y A(y)$$ and the final bound $$n$$ we must simply track the impact of $$\pi$$ on the size of the proof of $$A(Sub(k))$$. So from the proof we can read off a primitive recursive functional $$\phi$$ such that if $$\pi$$ is the code of a proof of $$\exists n P(n)$$ then $$\exists n \leq \phi(f_0, f_1, \pi) P(n)$$ is also provable.

 Harvey Friedman, "The disjunction property implies the numerical existence property", Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA, 72(8):2877-2878, 1975.

#### 1 comment: J said...

I find it somewhat surprising that a neat theorem has a bit intricate proof.