# Confusion in Turings proof of the undecidability of the Entscheidungsproblem

I was reading Turing's paper on computable numbers and the Entscheidungsproblem. There is this part of Section 9, Part II that I cannot quite seem to understand. He says: It is pretty straight forward until the part where he introduces $$\mathfrak{U}$$. So $$\mathfrak{U}$$, he says, includes the Peano axioms; but what else does it include? I guess it includes the axioms for $$G(x)$$ as well, because only then would $$\mathfrak{U}$$ be able to "define" the sequence $$\alpha$$ that is being computed by $$G(x)$$. I am taking the word "define" here in its usual sense, but Turing explains what he means by "$$\mathfrak{U}$$ defining $$\alpha$$" as: So for $$\mathfrak{U}$$ to define $$\alpha$$, $$-\mathfrak{U}$$ must not be provable? I am not sure why that is required? Because by restricting that $$-\mathfrak{U}$$ must not be provable we are saying that $$\mathfrak{U}$$ must not be refutable, which means that the sequence $$\alpha$$ cannot be all 0's (or so I think). But why would we want $$\alpha$$ to not be all 0's?

I am also confused about the two formulas ($$A_n$$ and $$B_n$$) he has written above. I am not sure why if has included the $$F^{(n)}$$ part. If $$x$$ satisfies the Peano axioms and the axioms of $$G(x)$$, then $$U$$ being a conjection of all these axioms is given to be TRUE, and if $$x$$ does not satisfy these axioms then $$\mathfrak{U}$$ is obviously FALSE. So, just based on $$\mathfrak{U}$$ we can tell whether $$A_n$$ is TRUE or $$B_n$$. So what is the point of $$F^{(n)}$$ here? I think the following set of implications say pretty much the same thing as what Turing has? Sorry if I am overlooking something here.

Edit 1:

Here are the footnotes: • Regarding notation, we can use MathJax on this site. I've submitted an edit that makes use of it. Jun 22, 2020 at 15:22
• @user34258 Perfect! Thank you for that Jun 22, 2020 at 15:24

The transliteration of the passage into modern langauge would go as follows.

We extend the language of first-order Peano arithmetic with a unary predicate $$G$$ (and no axioms for $$G$$). For a number $$n \in \mathbb{N}$$, let $$\overline{n}$$ be the numeral $$\underbrace{S(S(\cdots S}_{n}(0)))$$ where $$S$$ is the successor symbol. For example, $$\overline{3} = S(S(S(0))$$.

Consider a formula $$\mathfrak{U}(x)$$ written in this language, whose only free variable is $$x$$ such that, for every $$n \in \mathbb{N}$$:

1. Peano axioms prove $$\mathfrak{U}(\overline{n}) \Rightarrow G(\overline{n})$$, or
2. Peano axioms prove $$\mathfrak{U}(\overline{n}) \Rightarrow \lnot G(\overline{n})$$.
3. Peano axioms do not prove $$\lnot \mathfrak{U}(\overline{n})$$.

Define $$\alpha : \mathbb{N} \to \{0,1\}$$ by $$\alpha(n) = \begin{cases} 1 & \text{if Peano axioms prove \mathfrak{U}(\overline{n}) \Rightarrow G(\overline{n})},\\ 0 & \text{if Peano axioms prove \mathfrak{U}(\overline{n}) \Rightarrow \lnot G(\overline{n}).} \end{cases}$$ We say that $$\mathfrak{U}$$ defines the sequence $$\alpha$$.

Intuitively, we think of $$G(x)$$ as stating "the $$x$$-th digit of $$\alpha$$ is $$1$$", and of $$\lnot G(x)$$ as stating "the $$x$$-th digits of $$\alpha$$ is $$0$$".

The first and second condition on $$\mathfrak{U}$$ ensure that $$\mathfrak{U}$$ always assigns $$\alpha(n)$$ the value $$0$$ or the value $$1$$.

The third condition ensures that $$\mathfrak{U}$$ never assigns both $$0$$ and $$1$$ to $$\alpha(n)$$ (because it follows from the first two conditions that $$\lnot \mathfrak{U}(\overline{n})$$ is equiprovable with $$G(\overline{n}) \land \lnot G(\overline{n})$$).

Example: The formula $$G(x)$$ defines the sequence $$1, 1, 1, 1, 1, \ldots$$.

Example: The formula $$G(S(x))$$ does not define a sequence because $$G(S(0)))$$ does not imply $$G(0)$$ and it does not imply $$\lnot G(0)$$. (Remember that $$G$$ is a primitive symbol and that we have no axioms about it.)

Example: The formula $$G(0) \land \forall x \,.\, \lnot G(S(x))$$ defines the sequence $$1, 0, 0, 0, 0, \ldots$$

Example: The formula $$x \neq 0 \land \Rightarrow G(x)$$ does not define the sequence because Peano axioms prove $$\lnot (0 \neq 0 \land G(0)$$, thus the third condition is violated. If we tried to use this formula to define a sequence, it would assign $$0$$ and $$1$$ to $$\alpha(0)$$ (and it would assign $$1$$ to all other terms of $$\alpha$$).

Example: The formula $$G(0) \land \lnot G(S(0)) \land \forall x . G(S(S(x)))$$ defines the sequence $$1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, \ldots$$

Example: The formula $$((\exists y . x = 2 \cdot y) \Rightarrow G(x)) \land ((\exists y . x = S(2 \cdot y)) \Rightarrow \lnot G(x))$$ defines the sequence $$0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, \ldots$$

• Thank you for your detailed answer, and the examples. By "extend[ing] the language of first-order Peano arithmetic with a unary predicate $G$" do you mean we add $G$ as the 10th axiom to it? Also, I cannot quite understand the definition of $\alpha$. It is 1 "if Peano axioms prove $\mathfrak{U}(\overline{n}) \Rightarrow G(\overline{n})$", but since $\mathfrak{U}$ is already constructed from (the extended) Peano axioms, shouldn't it always be provable using the Peano axioms. Sorry I only have a very basic & informal introduction to Logic (and that from Charles Petzold's The Annotated Turing) Jun 22, 2020 at 20:53
• A formal system has some symbols and relations. Peano arithmetic has symbols $0$, $S$, $+$ and $\times$. We add to it another symbol $G$. So this is not about axioms, but about what symbols we may use. Jun 22, 2020 at 22:24
• $\mathfrak{U}$ is not "constructed from Peano axioms". It is constructed using the symbols of the language ($0$, $S$, $+$, $\times$=, $G$, $=$ and all of first-order logic). The Peano axioms may be used to prove or disprove $\mathfrak{U}$. Jun 22, 2020 at 22:26
• For instance, $\mathfrak{U}$ could be the formula $S(S(x)) + S(0) = x + x \Rightarrow G(x + S(0))$. It is constructed from the symbols of Peano arithmetic, $G$ and logical operators. Simply constructing or "writing down" a formula has nothing to do with axioms. The axioms become important when we try to prove or disprove the formula. Jun 22, 2020 at 22:28
• Ah, I see! Perfectly makes sense now. Thank you very much! Jun 23, 2020 at 19:31