First Steps in Synthetic Computability Theory (MFPS XXI)

Abstract: Computability theory, which investigates computable functions and computable sets, lies at the foundation of computer science. Its classical presentations usually involve a fair amount of Gödel encodings which sometime obscure ingenious arguments. Consequently, there have been a number of presentations of computability theory that aimed to present the subject in an abstract and conceptually pleasing way. We build on two such approaches, Hyland’s effective topos and Richman’s formulation in Bishop-style constructive mathematics, and develop basic computability theory, starting from a few simple axioms. Because we want a theory that resembles ordinary mathematics as much as possible, we never speak of Turing machines and Gödel encodings, but rather use familiar concepts from set theory and topology.

Presented at: Mathematical Foundations of Programming Semantics XXI, Birmingham, 2004 (invited talk).

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