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**1 - 1**of**1**### A Systematic Approach to Canonicity in the Classical Sequent Calculus

"... The sequent calculus is often criticized for requiring proofs to be laden with large volumes of low-level syntactic details that can obscure the essence of a given proof. Because each inference rule introduces only a single connective, cut-free sequent proofs can separate closely related steps—such ..."

Abstract
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The sequent calculus is often criticized for requiring proofs to be laden with large volumes of low-level syntactic details that can obscure the essence of a given proof. Because each inference rule introduces only a single connective, cut-free sequent proofs can separate closely related steps—such as instantiating a block of quantifiers—by irrelevant noise. Moreover, the sequential nature of sequent proofs forces proof steps that are syntactically non-interfering and permutable to nevertheless be written in some arbitrary order. The sequent calculus thus lacks a notion of canonicity: proofs that should be considered essentially the same may not have a common syntactic form. To fix this problem, many researchers revolt against the sequent calculus and replace it with proof structures that are more parallel or geometric. Proof-nets, matings, and atomic flows are examples of such revolutionary formalisms. In this paper, we propose taking, instead, an evolutionary approach to recover canonicity within the sequent calculus, an approach we illustrate for classical first-order logic. We use a multi-focused sequent system as our means of abstracting away the details from classical sequent proofs. We then show that, among the focused sequent proofs, the maximally multi-focused proofs, which make the foci as parallel as possible, are canonical. Moreover, such proofs are isomorphic to expansion tree proofs—a well known, simple, and parallel generalization of Herbrand disjunctions—for classical first-order logic. We thus provide a systematic method of recovering the essence of any sequent proof without abandoning the sequent calculus. 1