Transfinite induction

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A principle enabling one to infer that holds for every element of a well-ordered class if it is established that for each the truth of for all implies the truth of :

When is the segment of ordinal numbers less than (cf. Ordinal number), the following is an equivalent formulation: If , and if is preserved under limits, i.e.

then for any . A special case of transfinite induction is mathematical induction. If the relation defines on the class a well-founded tree (i.e. a tree all branches of which terminate), then transfinite induction for such an is equivalent to bar induction: If is true for all end vertices and is inherited on moving from them towards the root, then is true for the root. This form is important in intuitionistic mathematics. The deductive power of a formal system can often be measured in terms of provability of transfinite induction up to various ordinals.



[a1] S. Feferman, "Theories of finite type related to mathematical practice" J. Barwise (ed.) , Handbook of mathematical logic , North-Holland (1977) pp. 913–972
How to Cite This Entry:
Transfinite induction. Encyclopedia of Mathematics. URL:
This article was adapted from an original article by G.E. Mints (originator), which appeared in Encyclopedia of Mathematics - ISBN 1402006098. See original article