Theorems in Logic
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Logic, especially in the field of proof theory, considers theorems as statements (called formulas or well formed formulas) of a formal language. The statements of the language are strings of symbols and may be broadly divided into nonsense and well-formed formulas. A set of deduction rules, also called transformation rules or rules of inference, must be provided. These deduction rules tell exactly when a formula can be derived from a set of premises. The set of well-formed formulas may be broadly divided into theorems and non-theorems. However, according to Hofstadter, a formal system will often simply define all of its well-formed formula as theorems.
Different sets of derivation rules give rise to different interpretations of what it means for an expression to be a theorem. Some derivation rules and formal languages are intended to capture mathematical reasoning; the most common examples use first-order logic. Other deductive systems describe term rewriting, such as the reduction rules for λ calculus.
The definition of theorems as elements of a formal language allows for results in proof theory that study the structure of formal proofs and the structure of provable formulas. The most famous result is Gödel's incompleteness theorem; by representing theorems about basic number theory as expressions in a formal language, and then representing this language within number theory itself, Gödel constructed examples of statements that are neither provable nor disprovable from axiomatizations of number theory.
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“Histories make men wise; poets witty; the mathematics subtle; natural philosophy deep; moral grave; logic and rhetoric able to contend.”
—Francis Bacon (15611626)