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A semantics of evidence for classical arithmetic

  • Thierry Coquand (a1)
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If it is difficult to give the exact significance of consistency proofs from a classical point of view, in particular the proofs of Gentzen [2, 6], and Novikoff [14], the motivations of these proofs are quite clear intuitionistically. Their significance is then less to give a mere consistency proof than to present an intuitionistic explanation of the notion of classical truth. Gentzen for instance summarizes his proof as follows [6]: “Thus propositions of actualist mathematics seem to have a certain utility, but no sense. The major part of my consistency proof, however, consists precisely in ascribing a finitist sense to actualist propositions.” From this point of view, the main part of both Gentzen's and Novikoff's arguments can be stated as establishing that modus ponens is valid w.r.t. this interpretation ascribing a “finitist sense” to classical propositions.

In this paper, we reformulate Gentzen's and Novikoff's “finitist sense” of an arithmetic proposition as a winning strategy for a game associated to it. (To see a proof as a winning strategy has been considered by Lorenzen [10] for intuitionistic logic.) In the light of concurrency theory [7], it is tempting to consider a strategy as an interactive program (which represents thus the “finitist sense” of an arithmetic proposition). We shall show that the validity of modus ponens then gets a quite natural formulation, showing that “internal chatters” between two programs end eventually.

We first present Novikoff's notion of regular formulae, that can be seen as an intuitionistic truth definition for classical infinitary propositional calculus. We use this in order to motivate the second part, which presents a game-theoretic interpretation of the notion of regular formulae, and a proof of the admissibility of modus ponens which is based on this interpretation.

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[2]Bernays, P., On the original Gentzen consistency proof for number theory, Intuitionism and proof theory (Kino, A., Myhill, J., and Vesley, J. E., editors), North Holland, Amsterdam, 1970, pp. 409417.
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[14]Novikoff, P. S., On the consistency of certain logical calculus, Matematiceskij sbornik (Recueil-Mathématique, T.12), vol. 54 (1943), pp. 230260.
[15]Tait, W. W., Normal derivability in classical logic, The syntax and semantics of infinitary languages (Barwise, Jon, editor), Lecture Notes in Mathematics, vol. 72, Springer Verlag, 1968, pp. 204236.
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The Journal of Symbolic Logic
  • ISSN: 0022-4812
  • EISSN: 1943-5886
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-symbolic-logic
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