Published online by Cambridge University Press: 12 March 2014
§I. In 1961, R. L. Vaught ([V]) asked if one could prove, without the continuum hypothesis, that there exists a countable complete theory with exactly ℵ1 isomorphism types of countable models. The following statement is known as Vaught conjecture:
Let T be a countable theory. If T has uncountably many countable models, then T hascountable models.
More than twenty years later, this question is still open. Many papers have been written on the question: see for example [HM], [M1], [M2] and [St]. In the opinion of many people, it is a major problem in model theory.
Of course, I cannot say what Vaught had in mind when he asked the question. I just want to explain here what meaning I personally see to this problem. In particular, I will not speak about the topological Vaught conjecture, which is quite another issue.
I suppose that the first question I shall have to face is the following: “Why on earth are you interested in the number of countable models—particularly since the whole question disappears if we assume the continuum hypothesis?” The answer is simply that I am not interested in the number of countable models, nor in the number of models in any cardinality, as a matter of fact. An explanation is due here; it will be a little technical and it will rest upon two names: Scott (sentences) and Morley (theorem).