Decidability of exists*forall sentences in membership theories

Abstract

The problem is addressed of establishing the satisfiability of prenex formulas involving a single universal quantifier, in diversified axiomatic set theories. A rather general decision method for solving this problem is illustrated through the treatment of membership theories of increasing strength, ending with a subtheory of Zermelo-Fraenkel which is already complete with respect to the There Exists*For All class of sentences. NP-hardness and NP-completeness results concerning the problems under study are achieved and a technique for restricting the universal quantifier is presented.