[My Computational Complexity Web Log] Turing Machines and Gödel's Theorems
A little recursion theory can make Gödel's Theorems intuitively easy.
Let A be the set of <M> such that M does not accept the input <M>. By diagonalization techniques we can show A is not recursively enumerable.
Now let us fix a logical theory like ZFC set theory. The actual theory does not matter much. Let B be the set of <M> such that there is a proof in ZFC of the statement "M does not accept input <M>." B is recursively enumerable since we can just try all possible proofs.
Now B is clearly a subset of A so there must be an input <M> in A-B. For this <M>, we have that M does not accept input <M> but there is no proof of this fact. We now have a true mathematical statement with no proof. This is Gödel's first theorem.
We can be more constructive. Since B is recursively enumerable there is some Turing machine N that computes B. Suppose that N accepts <N>. This means <N> is in B which implies there is a proof that <N> does not accept N, a contradiction.
So <N> cannot accept N which means <N> is not in B. So we have now constructed an N such that the statement "N does not accept <N>" is true but not provable.
But wait a minute, didn't I just give a proof that N does not accept <N>? Actually I had to make the assumption that ZFC is consistent. If ZFC is inconsistent then every statement (true or false) is provable so B would not be a subset of A and my whole argument falls apart.
If ZFC could prove that ZFC is consistent then I would not have to make any assumption and would have a contradiction. Thus ZFC cannot prove its own consistency. This is Gödel's second theorem.
Logicians tell me I'm cheating: I had to assume something technically stronger than consistency for this argument to work. Still these proofs illustrate the amazing power of Turing machines can make Gödel's theorem easier to understand.
Posted by Lance Fortnow to My Computational Complexity Web Log at 5/16/2003 4:57:59 PM
Powered by Blogger Pro