Finding missing proofs with automated reasoning

Studia Logica 68 (3):329-356 (2001)
Abstract
This article features long-sought proofs with intriguing properties (such as the absence of double negation and the avoidance of lemmas that appeared to be indispensable), and it features the automated methods for finding them. The theorems of concern are taken from various areas of logic that include two-valued sentential (or propositional) calculus and infinite-valued sentential calculus. Many of the proofs (in effect) answer questions that had remained open for decades, questions focusing on axiomatic proofs. The approaches we take are of added interest in that all rely heavily on the use of a single program that offers logical reasoning, William McCune's automated reasoning program OTTER. The nature of the successes and approaches suggests that this program offers researchers a valuable automated assistant. This article has three main components. First, in view of the interdisciplinary nature of the audience, we discuss the means for using the program in question (OTTER), which flags, parameters, and lists have which effects, and how the proofs it finds are easily read. Second, because of the variety of proofs that we have found and their significance, we discuss them in a manner that permits comparison with the literature. Among those proofs, we offer a proof shorter than that given by Meredith and Prior in their treatment of ukasiewicz's shortest single axiom for the implicational fragment of two-valued sentential calculus, and we offer a proof for the ukasiewicz 23-letter single axiom for the full calculus. Third, with the intent of producing a fruitful dialogue, we pose questions concerning the properties of proofs and, even more pressing, invite questions similar to those this article answers.
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