From geometry to geology: An invitation to mathematical pluralism through the phenomenon of independence [article]

Jonas Reitz
2016 arXiv   pre-print
This paper explores how a pluralist view can arise in a natural way out of the day-to-day practice of modern set theory. By contrast, the widely accepted orthodox view is that there is an ultimate universe of sets V, and it is in this universe that mathematics takes place. From this view, the purpose of set theory is "learning the truth about V." It has become apparent, however, that the phenomenon of independence - those questions left unresolved by the axioms - holds a central place in the
more » ... estigation. This paper introduces the notion of independence, explores the primary tool ("soundness") for establishing independence results, and shows how a plurality of models arises through the investigation of this phenomenon. Building on a familiar example from Euclidean geometry, a template for independence proofs is established. Applying this template in the domain of set theory leads to a consideration of forcing, the tool par excellence for constructing universes of sets. Fifty years of forcing has resulted in a profusion of universes exhibiting a wide variety of characteristics - a multiverse of set theories. Direct study of this multiverse presents technical challenges due to its second-order nature. Nonetheless, there are certain nice "local neighborhoods" of the multiverse that are amenable to first-order analysis, and set-theoretic geology studies just such a neighborhood, the collection of grounds of a given universe V of set theory. I will explore some of the properties of this collection, touching on major concepts, open questions, and recent developments.
arXiv:1609.00093v1 fatcat:hdmchiubvnernoxpuy5hznk244