Proof theory is an area of logic that studies proof as formal mathematical objects. For questions asking how to write proofs or for checking an informal proof, please use the proof-writing or proof-strategy tags instead.

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Can every proof by contradiction also be shown without contradiction?

Are there some proofs that can only be shown by contradiction or can everything that can be shown by contradiction also be shown without contradiction? What are the advantage/disadvantages of proving ...
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Do we know if there exist true mathematical statements that can not be proven?

Given the set of standard axioms (I'm not asking for proof of those), do we know for sure that a proof exists for all unproven theorems? For example, I believe the Goldbach Conjecture is not proven ...
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8answers
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Are the “proofs by contradiction” weaker than other proofs?

I remember hearing several times the advice that, we should avoid using a proof by contradiction, if it is simple to convert to a direct proof or a proof by contrapositive. Could you explain the ...
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8answers
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Is it possible that “A counter-example exists but it cannot be found”

Then otherwise the sentence "It is not possible for someone to find a counter-example" would be a proof. I mean, are there some hypotheses that are false but the counter-example is somewhere we ...
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13answers
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What is a proof?

I am just a high school student, and I haven't seen much in mathematics (calculus and abstract algebra). Mathematics is a system of axioms which you choose yourself for a set of undefined entities, ...
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2answers
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Is it possible to prove a mathematical statement by proving that a proof exists?

I'm sure there are easy ways of proving things using, well... any other method besides this! But still, I'm curious to know whether it would be acceptable/if it has been done before?
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6answers
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If all sets were finite, how could the real numbers be defined?

An extreme form of constructivism is called finitisim. In this form, unlike the standard axiom system, infinite sets are not allowed. There are important mathematicians, such as Kronecker, who ...
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5answers
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How to prove the mathematical induction is true?

I have no idea about the underlying theory from which the mathematical induction was derived. How to prove the mathematical induction is true?
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If it takes infinite steps to prove a statement, is that a valid proof?

In Cantor's diagonal argument, it takes (countable) infinite steps to construct a number that is different from any numbers in a countable infinite sequence, so in fact the proof takes infinite steps ...
15
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2answers
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How much math do we need to prove all simple numeric identities?

Consider real numeric expressions build only from integers, operators $+,-,\times,/$ and taking a positive expression to a power (no variables involved), e.g. $$\frac{2}{7},\ 2^{1/2},\ ...
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7answers
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Is a counterexample considered a rigorous proof that a property is not true?

This is my follow-up question to my own query earlier: How can I algebraically prove that $2^n - 1$ is not always prime? Almost half of the answers said that I provided my own proof by giving ...
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4answers
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Why an inconsistent formal system can prove everything?

I am reading a Set Theory book by Kunen. He presents first-order logic and claims that if a set of sentences in inconsistent, then it proves every possible sentence. Since he does not explicitly ...
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7answers
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Difference between “Show” and “Prove”

In many mathematics problems you see the phrase "prove that..." or "show that..." something is. What's the difference between these two phrases? Is "showing" something different from "proving" ...
12
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4answers
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Existence Proofs

This may be a stretch, but are there examples of proofs that prove that a proof exists for a theorem. For example, if A is a theorem, and it is too tedious to prove that, is it possible to show that ...
12
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4answers
185 views

Does “=” have to be interpreted as equality?

To put it briefly: In model theory, we are allowed to interpret any relation symbol in any way we like. So why do people seem to require that "$=$" is interpreted as the actual equality? Let me ...
12
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3answers
382 views

On Pudlak's “Life in an Inconsistent World”

In his Logical Foundation of Mathematics and Computational Complexity (2013), Pavel Pudlak invites the readers to ponder about fictitious people whose natural numbers are nonstandard. His exposition ...
12
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2answers
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Is it possible to formalize the relationship between different proofs of the same theorem?

Some theorems have many proofs. Examples include the Pythagorean Theorem and the Law of Quadratic Reciprocity. I was wondering if one could formalize the relationship between these proofs. Sure, they ...
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7answers
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Why do statements which appear elementary have complicated proofs?

The motivation for this question is : http://math.stackexchange.com/questions/4066/rationals-of-the-form-fracpq-where-p-q-are-primes-in-a-b and some other problems in Mathematics which looks as if ...
11
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6answers
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Aren't constructive math proofs more “sound”?

Since constructive mathematics allows us to avoid things like Russell's Paradox, then why don't they replace traditional proofs? How do we know the "regular" kind of mathematics are free of paradox ...
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4answers
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Is there a connection between length of sentence and length of proof?

My basic question is: "Do longer tautologies take longer to prove?" But obviously this is underdetermined. If you are allowed an inference rule "Tautological Implication" then any tautology has a 1 ...
11
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3answers
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Gentzen Cut elimination: Why do we have to “go infinite”?

I found some slides here that say you can't do cut elimination on PA with axioms like $$\frac{P(Z)\;\;\;\;\;\forall n,\,P(n) \implies P(Sn)}{\forall n,\,P(n)}$$ (which denotes infinitely many axioms ...
11
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1answer
180 views

Unprovable unprovability

In general, mathematical conjectures are resolved by proof, disproof, or proof that they are neither provable nor disprovable. Is it possible that some open conjectures cannot be settled in any of ...
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5answers
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List of Mathematical Impossibilities proved using special tools

It is always weird to see a proof that something is impossible, especially when the tools used in the proof have nothing to do(at a first sight) with the original statement of the problem. I know a ...
9
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1answer
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Can all math results be formalized and checked by a computer?

Can all math results, that have been correctly proven so far, be formalized and checked by a computer? If so, what type of logic would need to be used there? I've heard that the first-order logic is ...
9
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3answers
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Prove by Hilbert deduction: $\vdash _{HFOL} \forall x (\neg(A \to \neg B))\to \neg(\forall xA \to \neg(\forall xB))$

I'd really like your help proving: $\vdash_{HFOL} \forall x (\neg(A \to \neg B))\to \neg(\forall xA \to \neg(\forall xB))$ Where $HFOL$ is the proof system which contains the Hilbert relevant ...
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How can I learn about proofs for computer science?

I study computer science at a university. My school offers several courses where various proofs are expected, but there is no course that introduces the fundamental concepts of proofs and how to write ...
8
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1answer
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Can all theorems of $\sf ZFC$ about the natural numbers be proven in $\sf ZF$?

I know a proof of Hindman's theorem that uses ultrafilters on the natural numbers, and ultimately, the axiom of choice. But the theorem itself is essentially a combinatorial property of the natural ...
8
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2answers
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Definition of “non-constructive proof”

I was wondering if it is possible to define exactly what a non-constructive (nc) proof is. I have often seen the concept associated with the use of principles such as the axiom of choice or the law of ...
8
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2answers
233 views

Minimal difference between classical and intuitionistic sequent calculus

Consider propositional logic with primitive connectives $\{{\to},{\land},{\lor},{\bot}\}$. We view $\neg \varphi$ as an abbreviation of $\varphi\to\bot$ and $\varphi\leftrightarrow\psi$ as an ...
8
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1answer
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Reverse Mathematics of Well-Orderings

In Simpson's book, a well-ordered set $X$ is a linear ordering such that there are no functions $f : \mathbb{N} \rightarrow X$ which is decreasing. However, a familiar definition of well-ordering is ...
8
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1answer
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The Power of Lambda Calculi

A simple question here, which likely demands a somewhat complex answer... Or rather, a set of related questions. What are the advantages of typed lambda calculus over untyped lambda calculus in ...
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3answers
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Why are $\Delta_1$ sentences of arithmetic called recursive?

The arithmetic hierarchy defines the $\Pi_1$ formulae of arithmetic to be formulae that are provably equivalent to a formula in prenex normal form that only has universal quantifiers, and $\Sigma_1$ ...
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Consistency of PA: why other proofs?

Completeness theorem affirms that a formal first order system is consistent iff it has a model. The FOL number theory(PA) or First Order Arithmetic has a model, which is the natural numbers structure. ...
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Tricks for Constructing Hilbert-Style Proofs

Several times in my studies, I've come across Hilbert-style proof systems for various systems of logic, and when an author says, "Theorem: $\varphi$ is provable in system $\cal H$," or "Theorem: the ...
7
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1answer
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Packing boxes and proof of Riemann Hypothesis

From Scott Aaronson's blog: There’s a finite (and not unimaginably-large) set of boxes, such that if we knew how to pack those boxes into the trunk of your car, then we’d also know a proof ...
7
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1answer
144 views

Gödel's way of teaching non-standard models to Takeuti.

In Memoirs of a Proof Theorist, Gaisi Takeuti relates how Gödel taught him about nonstandard models in an "interesting" way: It went as follows. Let T be a theory with a nonstandard model. By ...
7
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4answers
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How or why does intutionistic logic proof negations from within the theory, constructively?

I'm having a little of a cognitive dissonance why, in intuitionistic logic, it's possible to show stentences like $(\neg A \land \neg B) \implies \neg(A\lor B).$ In plain text: If 'A isn't true' as ...
7
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1answer
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Can Robinson's Q prove Presburger arithmetic consistent?

I made an assertion in What are some examples of theories stronger than Presburger Arithmetic but weaker than Peano Arithmetic? that Q has higher consistency strength than Pres, Presburger arithmetic; ...
7
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1answer
224 views

On the existence of closed form solutions to finite combinatorial problems

Is it possible that a finite combinatorial problem may admit a closed form solution, and for it to be impossible in practice to prove the validity of this solution? I'm not sure if a rigorous ...
7
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1answer
130 views

Learning how to prove that a function can't proved total?

In proof-theory one can prove that in, say, Peano Arithmetic one can't prove a function $f$ total. Often this seems to mean $f$ is growing too fast to be provably total. I have some background in ...
7
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1answer
190 views

Are coinductive proofs necessary?

I've been exploring corecursion in Coq (specifically, infinite streams of natural numbers) lately and so far any coinductive predicate I've constructed and its coinductive proof can be transformed ...
7
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1answer
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Proof-theoretic characterization of the primitive recursive functions?

The total recursive functions are exactly those number-theoretic functions that can be represented by a $\Sigma_1$ formula of first-order arithmetic. Is there a similar characterization of the ...
6
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4answers
388 views

Are there “essentially non-constructive” statements?

There exist constructive and non-constructive proofs. Sometimes, for a mathematical statement, we can have both non-constructive and a constructive proof. However, are there statements for which ...
6
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3answers
217 views

Give a proof that “p & ~p” implies “q”?

Context: This is not a textbook or homework problem. I was hoping you younger folks could help my tired old brain. "Everybody knows" a contradiction implies anything. What I'm looking for is a ...
6
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3answers
442 views

Justification of Proofs by Contradiction

Is there a validation for the technique of proof by contradiction? Or do those who use it take its validity as an axiom?
6
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1answer
197 views

Are the Godel's incompleteness theorems valid for both classical and intuitionistic logic?

I am studying an undergraduate text about math logic. The proofs of the two Godel's incompleteness theorems are not completely formal: they are admittedly simpler that the real proofs. For what I ...
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2answers
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How is the standard model of number theory specified, and why can't we use that specification to prove any number theoretical sentence of interest?

According to Gödel's incompleteness theorem, there exists a sentence $G$ in the vocabulary of number theory ($N$) which is not provable from any (recursively enumerable) consistent set of axioms $T$, ...
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1answer
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What are the formal properties of Godel numbering that are required to make it 'work'?

Godel numbering assigns a number to every formula. It appears to me that any encoding will do. However its also apparent, though I'm not sure how, that certain properties of the encoding used in Godel ...
6
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2answers
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Ideas about Proofs

If there are two different proofs for one theorem, at some level are the two proofs the same, or can they be fundamentally different? In other words, if you have two proofs of a theorem, can one show ...
6
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1answer
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Is there a useful Galois connection between Languages and Grammars?

I've just beginning to learn logic and proof theory - and the following rather vague and perhaps ill-formed question occurred to me. Given an alphabet it's straightforward to construct the Language, ...