The Church-Turing ‘Thesis’ as a Special Corollary of Gödel’s Completeness Theorem

In B. J. Copeland, C. Posy & O. Shagrir (eds.), Computability: Turing, Gödel, Church, and Beyond. MIT Press (2013)
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Traditionally, many writers, following Kleene (1952), thought of the Church-Turing thesis as unprovable by its nature but having various strong arguments in its favor, including Turing’s analysis of human computation. More recently, the beauty, power, and obvious fundamental importance of this analysis, what Turing (1936) calls “argument I,” has led some writers to give an almost exclusive emphasis on this argument as the unique justification for the Church-Turing thesis. In this chapter I advocate an alternative justification, essentially presupposed by Turing himself in what he calls “argument II.” The idea is that computation is a special form of mathematical deduction. Assuming the steps of the deduction can be stated in a first order language, the Church-Turing thesis follows as a special case of Gödel’s completeness theorem (first order algorithm theorem). I propose this idea as an alternative foundation for the Church-Turing thesis, both for human and machine computation. Clearly the relevant assumptions are justified for computations presently known. Other issues, such as the significance of Gödel’s 1931 Theorem IX for the Entscheidungsproblem, are discussed along the way.



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Saul Kripke
Last affiliation: CUNY Graduate Center

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