[FOM] Atlanta Meeting -- misinformation

Harvey Friedman friedman at math.ohio-state.edu
Fri Jan 21 22:40:45 EST 2005

I wrote, 1/16/05 Atlanta Meeting:

>> There was considerable informal discussion at the meeting about the
>> unavailability of a text on RM. Simpson's 1999 SOSOA book
>> (Subsystems of second order arithmetic) had served as such a text
>> until it went out of print shortly after it appeared. However,
>> there is no definite timetable for its republication.
>> The upshot is that there appears to be urgent need for a textbook
>> specifically on Reverse Mathematics, for students and scholars
>> interested in, or thinking of working in, Reverse Mathematics.

On 1/21/05 4:13 PM, "Stephen G Simpson" <simpson at math.psu.edu> wrote:
> This is misleading.
> First, Harvey himself drove the "informal discussion", which consisted
> largely of Harvey's criticism of my alleged personal and professional
> shortcomings.

I respond to defend the accuracy of (what Steve has quoted above from) my
recent posting to the FOM. It was not misleading.

To my knowledge, there was no discussion of Simpsons' personal and
professional shortcomings - privately or publicly - other than the damage,
in my view, that has been caused by the, in my view, completely unnecessary
and inexplicable delay in the republication of SOSOA, which has been
unavailable for several years. The exception is that my discussions with
Steve were more candid, and touched on the nature of his commitments.
> Second, there is in fact a plan and a timetable for a second edition
> of my book Subsystems of Second Order Arithmetic, to be published by
> the Association for Symbolic Logic.  I gave further details in my talk
> at the session, with Harvey present.  Interested persons may
> communicate directly with me, or see my transparencies at
> http://www.math.psu.edu/simpson/talks/.

When I was present, the only timetable stated in Steve's talk (and elsewhere
as far as I know) was the assertion that the book would be submitted to ASL
for republication "when I (Steve) feel like it". I do not think that this
quote represents a "definite timetable", the phrase used in the passage that
Steve quotes above from my previous posting. My statement is accurate.

> Also mentioned in my talk, but omitted from Harvey's account, is the
> existence of a new volume of papers on Reverse Mathematics, edited by
> me.  This will be available within the next few weeks as Volume 21 of
> the ASL's book series, Lecture Notes in Logic.

This book was submitted by Steve a few years ago to the ASL, and has been
mentioned frequently on the FOM already. I have two papers in that volume,
and have always been pleased that this volume was eventually submitted to
the ASL, even though the call for papers was made by Steve in 1999.
> Quite generally, Harvey is not to be regarded a spokesman for me, with
> respect to my research or publications, or any other topic.

I can't see how anyone would think that I am a spokesman for anyone else in
mathematical logic. However, I am an interested party when inexplicable
delays occur that, in my view, do damage to Reverse Mathematics. I first
seek to understand the cause of such inexplicable delays, and then seek to
remedy such delays.

Given my perceived hopelessness of the situation, I have taken some initial
steps towards identifying a coauthor or coauthors for publication of a book
"Elements of Reverse Mathematics" which should serve as an available text
for courses in Reverse Mathematics. The intention is that it will focus
entirely on RM and not include dispensable material on subsystems of second
order arithmetic. There will be no attempt to be comprehensive, and the book
will be considerably shorter than SOSOA. It will also include material on
some newly developing dimensions of RM, which I call SRM (strict reverse
mathematics). These newly developing dimensions were discussed in some
unpublished manuscripts of mine from the 1970s.

Harvey Friedman

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