The Journal of Symbolic Logic

Research Article

A note on the Entscheidungsproblem

Alonzo Church

Princeton University

In a recent paper the author has proposed a definition of the commonly used term “effectively calculable” and has shown on the basis of this definition that the general case of the Entscheidungsproblem is unsolvable in any system of symbolic logic which is adequate to a certain portion of arithmetic and is ω-consistent. The purpose of the present note is to outline an extension of this result to the engere Funktionenkalkul of Hilbert and Ackermann.

In the author's cited paper it is pointed out that there can be associated recursively with every well-formed formula a recursive enumeration of the formulas into which it is convertible. This means the existence of a recursively defined function a of two positive integers such that, if y is the Gödel representation of a well-formed formula Y then a(x, y) is the Gödel representation of the xth formula in the enumeration of the formulas into which Y is convertible.

Consider the system L of symbolic logic which arises from the engere Funktionenkalkül by adding to it: as additional undefined symbols, a symbol 1 for the number 1 (regarded as an individual), a symbol = for the propositional function = (equality of individuals), a symbol s for the arithmetic function x+1, a symbol a for the arithmetic function a described in the preceding paragraph, and symbols b 1, b 2, …, b k for the auxiliary arithmetic functions which are employed in the recursive definition of a; and as additional axioms, the recursion equations for the functions a, b 1, b 2, …, b k (expressed with free individual variables, the class of individuals being taken as identical with the class of positive integers), and two axioms of equality, x = x, and x = y →[F(x)→F(y)].

(Received April 15 1936)