On the semantics of proofs in classical sequent calculus

Fabio Massaioli

16-06-2023 - 16:00
Largo San Leonardo Murialdo,1 - Pal.C - Aula 311


I recall briefly the peculiar features of cut-reduction procedures in classical sequent calculus and the challenges they pose to the development of a satisfying notion of proof semantics. A common approach in the literature has been to adopt techniques like polarization or embeddings into intuitionistic or linear logic, which solve the difficulties by breaking the simmetry of the cut-reduction procedure.

In this talk I shall explore an alternative approach that refrains from breaking symmetry, based upon the idea of tracking the presence of axioms pairing atomic formula occurrences in the conclusion of a proof. A first unrefined formulation fails to be invariant under cut-reduction, but the counter-examples suggest that the difficulty is related to the invertibility of conjunctions. This observation warrants a move to the negative formulation of classical propositional sequent calculus — also known as GS4 — where all parallel logical rule applications permute freely and the structural rules are implicit.

I introduce a refined interpretation of GS4 derivations and show that it is preserved under arbitrary permutations of logical rules; then I exploit those permutations to define a global normalization procedure that preserves the interpretation (partially based on a normalization-by-evaluation technique), thus yielding a non-trivial invariant of cut-elimination in GS4. The invariants can be presented as a graphical proof-system, akin to proof-nets, enjoying a polynomial time correctness criterion and very good properties.

Finally, I discuss the shortcomings of this approach and assess its ability to solve the problems described at the beginning of the talk.
org: MAIELI Roberto