General arithmetic

Abstract

General Arithmetic is the theory consisting of induction on a successor function. Normal arithmetic, say in the system called Peano Arithmetic, makes certain additional demands on the successor function. First, that it be total. Secondly, that it be one-to-one. And thirdly, that there be a first element which is not in its image. General Arithmetic abandons all of these further assumptions, yet is still able to prove many meaningful arithmetic truths, such as, most basically, Commutativity and Associativity of Addition and Multiplication, but also Lagrange’s Four-Square Theorem. Adding one more axiom, the one-oneness of succession, one can prove many more theorems, such as Quadratic Reciprocity and Fermat’s Little Theorem. By looking at arithmetic in this general setting, one receives a deeper understanding of the underlying structures.

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