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Leonid Levin showed that every algorithm computing a function has an optimal inverter. Recently, we applied his result in various contexts: existence of optimal acceptors, existence of hard sequences for algorithms and proof systems, proofs of Gödel’s incompleteness theorems, analysis of the complexity of the clique problem assuming the nonuniform Exponential Time Hypothesis. We present all these applications here. Even though a simple diagonalization yields Levin’s result, we believe that it is worthwhile to be aware of the explicit result. The purpose of this survey is to convince the reader of our view.
We raise an issue of circularity in the argument for the completeness of first-order logic. An analysis of the problem sheds light on the development of mathematics, and suggests other possible directions for foundational research.
We propose a criterion to regard a property of a theory (in first or second order logic) as virtuous: the property must have significant mathematical consequences for the theory (or its models). We then rehearse results of Ajtai, Marek, Magidor, H. Friedman and Solovay to argue that for second order logic, ‘categoricity’ has little virtue. For first order logic, categoricity is trivial; but ‘categoricity in power’ has enormous structural consequences for any of the theories satisfying it. The stability hierarchy extends this virtue to other complete theories. The interaction of model theory and traditional mathematics is examined by considering the views of such as Bourbaki, Hrushovski, Kazhdan, and Shelah to flesh out the argument that the main impact of formal methods on mathematics is using formal definability to obtain results in ‘mainstream’ mathematics. Moreover, these methods (e.g., the stability hierarchy) provide an organization for much mathematics which gives specific content to dreams of Bourbaki about the architecture of mathematics.