Take the 2-minute tour ×
Mathematics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people studying math at any level and professionals in related fields. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I want to express the fact that for all $x \in A$ that have the property that for all $y\in x$ $T(x,y)$ is true and there exists an $u \in B$ such that $P(y,u)$ is true AND for all $v\in C$, $Q(y,v)$ and $R(x,v)$ are also true, then $S(x)$ is true.

(Note that this statement is just a toy statement I have invented, because I was not sure I understood this transformation well, so I wanted to make it difficult, keeping with the idea, that if I got this difficult one right, that I probably understood how to do the transformations)

Formulated in a formal language of predicate logic, would this be

$$ \forall x ( x\in A \land \ \ \forall y (y\in x \rightarrow \ ( T(x,y) \land \ldots $$ $$ \ldots \land ( \exists u ( u \in B \land P(y,u) \land \forall v ( v\in C \rightarrow ( Q(y,v) \land R(x,v)))))))\rightarrow S(x) ) $$

(hope I didn't forget any paranthesis...) ?

Is there also a way to move the quantifiers "$\forall$" at the front, so that that string starts with $\forall x \forall y \ldots$ ?

share|improve this question
All quantifiers can be moved to the front. However, we cannot in general move the universal quantifiers to the front, to be followed by the existential quantifiers. (I am assuming that we will not introduce additional function symbols to the language.) –  André Nicolas Jul 15 '11 at 18:27

1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

As André said, you can move all of the quantifiers to the front; the result is an expression in what is called prenex normal form, and the conversion can be done quite mechanically. A formula can have more than one prenex normal form, but they will of course all be logically equivalent.

Edit: As Carl reminded me, logically equivalent prenex forms can (contrary to what I originally wrote) begin with different quantifiers: $\forall x \exists y(\phi(x) \land \psi(y))$ and $\exists y \forall x (\phi(x) \land \psi(y))$ are both prenex forms of $\forall x \phi(x) \land \exists x \psi(x)$. However, the order of the quantifiers can also matter: $\forall x \exists y \phi(x,y)$ and $\exists y \forall x \phi(y,x)$ are not logically equivalent. And it is certainly not possible in general to bring all of the universal quantifiers to the front.

share|improve this answer
Before marking your answer as the correct one: So the transformation from the formulation in english to predicate logic language was correct ? –  temo Jul 15 '11 at 19:22
@temo: Yes (unless I miscounted parentheses). However, since $u$ doesn’t appear after ‘AND’, it might be more natural to write $\dots \land (\exists u(u\in B \land P(y,u)) \land \dots \land R(x,v))))))\to S(x))$, limiting the scope of $\exists u$ to $u\in B \land P(y,u)$. –  Brian M. Scott Jul 15 '11 at 19:55
It isn't true that all the prenex normal forms must have the same classification, e.g. $(\forall x) P \land (\exists y) Q$ can be put in either $\forall \exists$ or $\exists \forall$ form. –  Carl Mummert Jul 15 '11 at 23:10
@Carl: You’re absolutely right; I’ve no idea what I was thinking (if indeed I was!). Corrected. –  Brian M. Scott Jul 16 '11 at 2:28
@ Brian M. Scott ok, thanks, good remark about the scope of $u$ –  temo Jul 16 '11 at 8:44

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.