Infinity, in short


It is shown that within the language of Set Theory, if membership is assumed to be non-well-founded à la Aczel, then one can state the existence of infinite sets by means of an ∃∃∀∀ prenex sentence. Somewhat surprisingly, this statement of infinity is essentially the one which was proposed in 1988 for well-founded sets, and it is satisfied exclusively by well-founded sets. Stating infinity inside the BSR (Bernays-Schönfinkel-Ramsey) class of the ∃- sentences becomes more challenging if no commitment is taken as whether membership is well-founded or not: for this case, we produce an ∃∃∀∀∀-sentence, thus lowering the complexity of the quantificational prefix with respect to earlier prenex formulations of infinity. We also show that no prenex specification of infinity can have a prefix simpler than ∃∃∀∀.The problem of determining whether a BSR-sentence involving an uninterpreted predicate symbol and = can be satisfied over a large domain is then reduced to the satisfiability problem for the set theoretic class BSR subject to the ill-foundedness assumption. Envisaged enhancements of this reduction, cleverly exploiting the expressive power of the set theoretic BSR-class, add to the motivation for tackling the satisfaction problem for this class, which appears to be anything but unchallenging. © 2011 The Author.

Journal of Logic and Computation