# FOM: feasible numbers or? large cardinals and P vs NP

Mon Aug 13 13:07:07 EDT 2001

```Mitchell Spector presented some interesting
considerations on large cardinals and added:
>
> P.S.  I didn't change the Subject line, but I don't really
> believe that this has anything to do with the P=NP question.

Really, the initial discussion on P vs. NP quickly shifted
to something completely foreign to this problem. Of course,
in principle some new set-theoretic axiom could resolve the
question considered. But I personally do not believe that
this is a right way of thought.
Moreover, I even do not believe that the full strength of
Peano Arithmetic is necessary to resolve (or find a key
construction for an independence result, if any). Bounded
Arithmetic, probably with postulated ~EXP (partiality of
exponential function 2^n) is more appropriate. This also
corresponds to my belief that mathematics is not only
finding a final(!?) TRUTH (a wrong impression from the
success of contemporary set theory), but rather a PLAY WITH
TRUTH (like that in non-Euclidean geometries in the 19th
Century or like more recent Cohen's forcing) in the crucial
moments of the history of mathematics.  Irrationality of
square root of 2 was also a play with truth: "Let us just
will play FORMALLY with truth and derive the conclusion".

Note, that complexity theory arose essentially from
the problems of REAL computability, i.e. from the problem
that only so called feasible numbers can arise in real
computers (as lengths of inputs, outputs and complexity
measures). As feasible numbers
were completely undeveloped at that time (and almost
undeveloped even now) as a rigorous mathematical notion,
complexity theory used the old asymptotic approach, instead,
without any radical change of foundations of mathematics
concept for mathematics of feasible numbers. I consider
bounded arithmetic (even in traditional logical and
model-theoretic framework) as a right direction because
it is a step to feasible numbers. At least TRUTH (in
corresponding intuitive context) of ~EXP (despite, say,
PA |- EXP) seems very suitable for complexity theory.

Let me present some open questions related to P vs. NP
for some versions of bounded arithmetic (first, of BA
of finite binary strings).

Let p1,p2,... be (symbols for) all PTIME computable
predicates and operations over {0,1}* (binary strings)
and T_0 consists of all (or some reasonable list of)
true universal sentences in this language over (the
standard model) {0,1}*. Note, that there exists PTIME
computable polynomial-optimal enumeration

e:{1}* --> {0,1}*

(from unary to binary strings; unary strings being
identified with natural numbers).

Let DET denote "forall x exists i (x=e(i))".
This says that all finite binary strings are
"constructive" in a sense. (This is an analogy
to Kolmogorov komplexity of finite objects, but
in the framework presented we need no asymptotic
or any additive constants, as usually.)

PROBLEM 1. Is it consistent [T_0 + ~EXP + DET + Bounded
Induction Axiom] (all quantifiers of induction
formula have the form forall x < t or exists x < t,
x is not free in the term t, < is lexicographical
order over binary strings)?  (If P=NP then this problem

If we replace x in bounded induction axiom by the variable
i ranging only over unary strings then this theory becomes
consistent. It follows that it is unprovable in T_0
that NP-complete problems like SAT have super-polynomial
(say, exponential) lower bound for the time of
semi-decidability. What about T_0 + Bounded Induction?

(Cf. my paper in MFCS'80, LNCS N88, where this result was
demonstrated for the case of unary form of bounded induction
and even, mistakenly, for the full form of bounded induction.
The mistake was noticed by me in the next publication in MFCS81.)

PROBLEM 2. What about completeness of logic
(propositional or first order) when we are "living"
in a world with ~EXP? (Cf. my paper in MFCS81.)

If P=CoNP then both propositional and first order logic
may be shown to have complete axiomatization in the above
framework.

Specialists in Bounded Arithmetic could add much more
problems on BA related to P vs.NP.

Consider so called \Box-arithmetic which is like Peano
Arithmetic in the language for primitive recursive
functions and functionals (not of arbitrary higher types));
i.e. second order function
variables are allowed. \Box denotes the biggest natural
number. This requires a trivial change in the axioms for
successor. (First-order) Induction Axiom is as usual.
Let us also extend the language for primitive recursive
function(al)s to some new general recursive function(al)s
so that they would denote all global PTIME computable
operations over {0,1,...,\Box} with (finite) functional
arguments. (Recursion over finite domain with second-order
parameters = PTIME computability.) Note that till now
there was imposed no axiom on the value of \Box. "Global"
means that \Box is considered as an implicit argument.

Now, let as additionally fix \Box to be = 1000 or 2^1000
(or even 1; this seems  does not matter because we have
many-place functions and 1000 of variables over {0,1}
can imitate 2^1000) and consider also second-order
version of \Box arithmetic (whose language corresponds to
NP and to the whole polynomial-time hierarchy). Let us
also agree that

-----------------------------------------------------
! all proofs and syntactical expressions (in         !
! mathematics and in this arithmetic) are only      !
! of feasible length. (Did anybody seen non-feasible!
! mathematical proofs??)                            !
-----------------------------------------------------

PROBLEM 3. Is second-order \Box-arithmetic (in general
and in the case of fixed \Box) stronger (or more expressive
as a language) than the first-order one? (Only feasible
syntactic expressions and proofs are allowed in this
formulations!) Cf. also some considerations on this
in my paper on Bounded Set Theory for the Congress on
Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Sci., Florence,
1995, published in 1997). This is evidently related to
the problem P vs. NP (at least informally).

Note again, that the case of fixed \Box requires involving
feasible numbers via syntax. (Otherwise the problem is
uninteresting). This is very unusual concept and I would
like to believe that it is this concept which might
(in a future) generate a crucial idea for approaching the
problem P vs. NP and probably other problems of complexity
theory. But first we should develop feasible numbers theory
and corresponding intuition and "TRUTH" as far as possible.
This is not so easy enterprise (at least psychologically).
The first essential MATHEMATICAL step have already been
done by Parikh in 1971. I also have a published paper
(cf. my Web page) which demonstrates some rather unexpected
properties of feasible numbers (I omit formulating them)
which do not hold for Parikh's formalization.

Finally, as to the traditional to FOM question:
"Does mathematics need new axioms?" Why to concentrate
only on extensions of ZFC? For example, look for
axiomatisation of feasible numbers, it is also interesting
and very intriguing (and, hopefully, promising) subject.
For example, it could give completely new perspective
to Nonstandard Analysis. In the framework of feasible
numbers Analysis can be only "Nonstandard", unlike the
ordinary mathematics where epsilon-delta approach
suffice. Everything is "nonstandard" in feasible numbers.

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