1.3. Form of theories: notions, objects and meta-objects
The variability of the model
Each theory describes its model as a fixed system.
But from the larger viewpoint of model theory, this is a mere «choice» of one possible
model (interpretation) in a wide (usually infinite) range of other existing, equally legitimate
models of the same theory. Now this fixation of the model, like the fixation of any variable,
is but the elementary act of picking any possibility, ignoring any issue of how to specify
an example in this range. Actually these «choice» and «existence» of models can be quite
abstract. In details, the proof
of the Completeness theorem will effectively «specify» a model of any consistent
theory for the general case, but its construction will involve an infinity of steps, where
each step depends on an infinite knowledge. Regardless this difficulty, the attitude of
implicitly fixing a model when formally studying any mathematical theory, remains the
standard way of interpreting it (except somehow for set theory as explained in 1.D).
Notions and objects
Each theory has its own list of notions, usually designated
by common names, formally serving as the kinds of variables it can use
; each model interprets each notion as a set that is the common
range of all variables of this kind. For example, Euclidean geometry
has the notions of «point», «straight line», «circle» and more, and is usually
expressed using a different style of variable symbol for each. The
objects of a theory in a model, are all possible values
of its variables of all kinds (the elements of all its notions) in this model.
Any discussion on several theories T and systems M that may be
models of those T, takes place in model theory, with its
notions of «theory» and «system» that are the respective kinds of the variables
T and M. But when focusing on one theory with a fixed model, the
variables T and M now fixed disappear from the list of variables.
Their kinds, the notions of theory and model, disappear from the notions list too.
This reduces the framework, from model theory, to that of one-model theory.
A model of one-model theory, is a system
[T,M] which combines a theory T with a model
M of T.
The diversity of logical frameworks
The role of a logical
framework, as a precise version of (one-)model theory with its associated
proof theory, is to describe :
Here are those we shall see,
roughly ordered from the poorest to the most expressive
(though the order depends on the ways to relate them):
- The admissible forms of contents for theories ;
- In particular, the syntactic structures of possible statements and other
expressions, which can be called their "grammar" ;
- The meaning of these contents and expressions on the models ;
- The rules of development of theories.
We shall first describe the main two of them in parallel. First-order logic is the
standard version of model theory, describing first-order theories we shall
also call here generic theories. Set theory, which can encompass all
other theories, can also encompass logical frameworks and thus serve itself as
the ultimate logical framework as will be explained in 1.7.
- Boolean algebra, also called propositional calculus (1.6);
- First-order logic;
- Duality (for geometry) and the tensor formalism for linear algebra;
- Second-order logic (5.1, 5.2);
- Higher-order logic (5.2);
- Set theory.
Most frameworks manage notions as types
(usually in finite number for each theory) classifying both variables and
objects. Notions are called types if each object belongs to only one of them, which is then also
called the type of the variables that can name it. For example, an object of Euclidean
geometry may be either a point or a straight line, but the same
object cannot be both a point and a straight line. But set theory will need
more notions beyond types: classes, which will be introduced in 1.7.
Examples of notions from various theories
||Kinds of objects (notions)
||Urelements classified by types to play different roles
||Elements, sets, functions, operations,
||Theories, systems and their components
| One-model theory
||Objects, symbols, types or other notions, Booleans,
structures (operators, predicates), expressions (terms, formulas)...
||Points, straight lines, circles...
The notions of a one-model theory T1, normally
interpreted in [T,M], classify the components of T
(«type», «symbol», «formula»...), and those of M («object»,
and the means to interpret components and expressions of T there).
But the same notions (even if from a different logical framework) can be interpreted in
[T1, [T,M]], by putting the prefix meta- on them.
By its notion of «object», one-model theory distinguishes the
objects of T in M among its own objects in [T,M],
that are the meta-objects. The above rule of use of the meta prefix
would let every object be a meta-object; but we will make a vocabulary
exception by only calling meta-object those which are not objects:
symbols, types or other notions, Booleans, structures, expressions...
Set theory only knows the ranges of some of its own variables, seen
as objects (sets). But, seen by one-model theory, every variable of
a theory has a range among notions, which are meta-objects only.
Components of theories
In a given logical framework, the content of a theory consists in 3
lists of components of the following kinds, where those of each of the latter
two kinds are finite systems using those of the previous kind.
- A list of abstract types, names in the theory
that will designate types in each system;
- A language (vocabulary): list of structure
symbols, names of the structures that will form the described system by
relating objects with given types (1.4).
- A list of axioms chosen among expressible statements with
this language (1.5).
FR : 1.3. Forme des
théories: notions, objets, méta-objets