The Scandinavian Logic Society

NOL Seminar with Johan van Benthem

The Nordic Online Logic Seminar is organised monthly over Zoom, with expository talks on topics of interest for the broader logic community. The seminar is open for professional or aspiring logicians and logic aficionados worldwide. If you wish to receive the Zoom ID and password for it, as well as further announcements, please subscribe here: https://listserv.gu.se/sympa/subscribe/nordiclogic.

Next talk: Monday, January 24, 16.00-17.30 CET (UTC+1), on Zoom (details are provided to the seminar subscribers)

Title: Interleaving Logic and Counting

Speaker: Johan van Benthem, Professor of Logic at the University of Amsterdam, Stanford University, and Tsinghua University


Reasoning with generalized quantifiers in natural language combines logical and arithmetical features, transcending divides between qualitative and quantitative. This practice blends with inference patterns in ‘grassroots mathematics’ such as pigeon-hole principles. Our topic is this cooperation of logic and counting on a par, studied with small systems and gradually moving upward. We start with monadic first-order logic with counting. We provide normal forms that allow for axiomatization, determine which arithmetical notions are definable, and conversely, discuss which logical notions and reasoning principles can be defined out of arithmetical ones. Next we study a series of strengthenings in the same style, including second-order versions, systems with multiple counting, and a new modal logic with counting. As a complement to our fragment approach, we also discuss another way of controlling complexity: changing the semantics of counting to reason about ‘mass’ or other aggregating notions than cardinalities. Finally, we return to the basic reasoning practices that lie embedded in natural language, confronting our formal systems with linguistic quantifier vocabulary, monotonicity reasoning, and procedural semantics via semantic automata. We conclude with some pointers to further entanglements of logic and counting in the metamathematics of formal systems, the philosophy of logic, and cognitive psychology.

(Joint work with Thomas Icard)

Paper available at: https://eprints.illc.uva.nl/id/eprint/1813/1/Logic.Counting.pdf