Asymptotic analysis of skolem’s exponential functions

Journal of Symbolic Logic 87 (2):758-782 (2022)
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Abstract

Skolem studied the germs at infinity of the smallest class of real valued functions on the positive real line containing the constant $1$, the identity function ${\mathbf {x}}$, and such that whenever f and g are in the set, $f+g,fg$ and $f^g$ are in the set. This set of germs is well ordered and Skolem conjectured that its order type is epsilon-zero. Van den Dries and Levitz computed the order type of the fragment below $2^{2^{\mathbf {x}}}$. Here we prove that the set of asymptotic classes within any Archimedean class of Skolem functions has order type $\omega $. As a consequence we obtain, for each positive integer n, an upper bound for the fragment below $2^{n^{\mathbf {x}}}$. We deduce an epsilon-zero upper bound for the fragment below $2^{{\mathbf {x}}^{\mathbf {x}}}$, improving the previous epsilon-omega bound by Levitz. A novel feature of our approach is the use of Conway’s surreal number for asymptotic calculations.

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