Woodin conference

March 11, 2015


The conference in honor of Hugh Woodin’s 60th birthday will take place at Harvard University, on March 27-29, 2015. The meeting is partially supported by the Mid-Atlantic Mathematical Logic Seminar and the National Science Foundation. Funding is available to support participant travel. Please write to woodinbirthdayconference@gmail.com to apply for support, and to notify the organizers if you are planning to attend.

The list of speakers is as follows:

  • H. Garth Dales
  • Qi Feng
  • Matthew D. Foreman
  • Ronald Jensen
  • Alexander S. Kechris
  • Menachem Magidor
  • Donald A. Martin
  • Grigor Sargsyan
  • Theodore A. Slaman
  • John R. Steel.

We expect to publish proceedings of the conference, together with select additional research and survey papers, through the series Contemporary Mathematics, of the AMS. The editors of the proceedings are myself, James Cummings, Peter Koellner, and Paul Larson. Please contact me for information regarding the proceedings.

Additional information can be found at the conference website.

Shehzad Ahmed – Coanalytic determinacy and sharps

January 12, 2015

Shehzad is my most recent student, having completed his M.S. thesis on May last year. He is currently pursuing his PhD at Ohio University. His page is here, and he also keeps a blog.

Shehzad Ahmed


His thesis, \mathbf \Pi^1_1-determinacy and sharps, is a survey of the Harrington-Martin theorem, showing the equivalence between a definable fragment of determinacy, and a large cardinal hypothesis.

After the fold, I review the basic notions, and give the tiniest of hints of what the theorem is and how its proof goes. Since the material is technical, the post is not really self-contained.

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Daniel Donado – Metric spaces on omega_1 under determinacy

August 24, 2014

Daniel was my first masters student, completing his M.S. in June 2010. I co-advised him together with my friend and colleague Ramiro de la Vega, at the Universidad de los Andes, in Bogota. The following picture is from his Facebook profile.

Daniel Donado


Daniel’s thesis, Metric spaces on \omega_1 under the axiom of determinacy (in Spanish), is part of a vastly unexplored field: general topology in the absence of choice.

Work on this area has been mostly about highlighting pathologies, illustrating how vastly different results can be when we keep standard definitions but work in setting where the axiom of choice fails badly. Even in the setting of the real numbers with the standard topology, things may not work as expected: Every set of reals may be Borel (in fact F_{\sigma\sigma}), there may be Borel infinite Dedekind-finite sets, etc. In his PhD thesis at UC Berkeley, Apollo Hogan showed that, instead, we can carry out a systematic and detailed study of general topology if instead of dealing with arbitrary models with absurd failures of choice, we concentrate on settings where the absence of choice is compensated by a rich combinatorial structure. Specifically, Apollo (who was a student at Berkeley at the same time I was there) considered topology under the axiom of determinacy. Daniel’s thesis is a survey of some of the results discovered by Apollo.

Daniel begins by reviewing some of the basic consequences of \mathsf{AD}, the axiom of determinacy. To state \mathsf{AD}, we need to consider certain ideal games between two players, that I will just call I and II. In all these games the format is the same: players I and II alternate with I playing first. In each turn, the corresponding player picks a natural number, repetitions being allowed, and both players having knowledge of all the moves both have made previously. They play for infinitely many rounds. At the end, a sequence of natural numbers \langle n_0,n_1,n_2,\dots\rangle has been produced, with n_0,n_2,n_4,\dots being the numbers picked by player I, and n_1,n_3,\dots being the ones picked by II. We have one of these games for each set A\subseteq\mathbb N^{\mathbb N}, where \mathbb N^{\mathbb N} is the set of all infinite sequences of natural numbers. In the game associated to such an A, player I wins iff the sequence \langle n_0,n_1,n_2,\dots\rangle is in A. Otherwise, player II is the winner.

A strategy \sigma for player I is a function that tells player I what to play each time. Formally, this is just a function from the set of finite sequences of numbers to \mathbb N. A strategy for II is defined similarly. We say that a strategy for I is winning if and only if player I wins the game whenever they play following the strategy. That is, in any such game we have  n_0=\sigma(\langle\rangle), n_2=\sigma(\langle n_1\rangle), n_4=\sigma(\langle n_1,n_3\rangle), etc, and at the end we have that \langle n_0,n_1,n_2,\dots\rangle\in A. Winning strategies for player II are defined similarly. We say that A is determined iff one of the players has a winning strategy.

It is easy to give examples of determined sets A. Using the axiom of choice, we can give examples of undetermined sets, but deep theorems in descriptive set theory indicate that no undetermined set can be particularly simple. For instance, it is a celebrated theorem of Martin that all Borel sets are determined. Here, \mathbb N^{\mathbb N} is made into a topological space by taking the product topology of countably many copies of the discrete set \mathbb N.

The axiom of determinacy is the statement that all A\subseteq \mathbb N^{\mathbb N} are determined. In particular, this statement contradicts the axiom of choice. See here for slides of a talk I gave a few years ago containing a quick introduction to the subject.

The short remainder of this post (after the fold) is by necessity more technical.

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Set theory seminar -Richard Ketchersid: Quasiiterations I. Iteration trees

January 19, 2009

In October 24-November 14 of 2008, Richard Ketchersid gave a nice series of talks on quasiiterations at the Set Theory Seminar. The theme is to correctly identify `nice’ branches through iteration trees, and to see how difficult it is for a model to compute these branches. Richard presented a prototypical result in this area (due to Woodin) and a nice application (due to Jackson and Ketchersid). This post will be far from self-contained, and only present some of the definitions.

[Edit Sep. 25, 2010: My original intention was to follow this post with two more notes, on Woodin’s result and on the Jackson-Ketchersid theorem, but I never found the time to polish the presentation to a satisfactory level, so instead I will let the interested reader find my drafts at Lucien’s library.]

I’ll assume known the notions of extender and Woodin cardinal, and associated notions like the length or strength of an extender. A good reference for this post is Donald Martin, John Steel, Iteration trees, Journal of the American Mathematical Society 7 (1) 1994, 1-73. As usual, all inaccuracies below are mine. Some of the notions below are slightly simpler than the official definitions. These notions are all due to Donald Martin, John Steel, and Hugh Woodin.

In this post I present the main notions (iteration trees and iterability) and close with a quick result about the height of tree orders. The order I follow is close to Richard’s but it differs from his presentation at a few places.

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