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A set is called arithmetical if it can be defined by a first-order formula in Peano arithmetic. I first encountered these sets when exploring the arithmetical hierarchy in the context of computability theory. However, I have not encountered any examples of sets that are not arithmetical.

Is there a canonical example of an non-arithmetical set?


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up vote 9 down vote accepted

There are countably many first order formulas defining arithmetical sets. Let $\varphi_n$, $n\in\mathbb N$, be a list of those. Consider the set that contains a natural number $n$ iff $n$ is not contained in the set defined by the $n$-th formula.

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Gotcha. I completely forgot you could diagonalize. Thanks! – templatetypedef Jun 25 '12 at 22:07

One example is the set of Gödel numbers for all true arithmetic sentences. If this was arithmetical, then Berry's paradox could be formalized and yield a contradiction.

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Note: this is Tarski's Theorem. – Quinn Culver Jul 9 '12 at 15:27

The usual examples are things like:

$0^{\omega}$ or anything bigger. Any arithmetically generic set. The set of ordinal notations or equivalently the indexes for computable well-orderings or even the indexes of well-founded computable trees.

I figured I'd add these because these are natural examples not merely a diagonalization.

Though the godel numbers of true statements of arithmetic is quite natural.

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I'm not familiar with the notation $0^\omega$. Do you have a reference on where I could learn more about it? – templatetypedef Jun 27 '12 at 20:54
I think Peter might mean what's usually designated $0^{(\omega)}$, the $\omega$-th Turing Jump ( of a computable set. – Steven Stadnicki Jun 27 '12 at 21:25
Yah, sorry for being sloppy...I have macros to do that for me. If you still want a reference try Classical Recursion Theory Vol 2 More simply it's just $\oplus_{i \in \omega} 0^{(i)}$ – Peter Gerdes Jun 27 '12 at 21:32

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