Set-theoretic geology and the downward-directed grounds hypothesis
Joel David Hamkins
The City University of New York
Forcing is often viewed as a method of constructing larger models extending a given model of set theory. The topic of set-theoretic geology inverts this perspective by investigating how the current set-theoretic universe $V$ might itself have arisen as a forcing extension of an inner model. Thus, an inner model $W\subset V$ is a ground of $V$ if we can realize $V=W[G]$ as a forcing extension of $W$ by some $W$-generic filter $G\subset\mathbb Q\in W$. Reitz had inquired in his dissertation whether any two grounds of $V$ must have a common deeper ground. Fuchs, myself and Reitz introduced the downward-directed grounds hypothesis, which asserts a positive answer, even for any set-indexed collection of grounds, and we showed that this axiom has many interesting consequences for set-theoretic geology.
I shall give a complete detailed account of Toshimichi Usuba’s recent proof of the strong downward-directed grounds hypothesis. This breakthrough result answers what had been for ten years the central open question in the area of set-theoretic geology and leads immediately to numerous consequences that settle many other open questions in the area, as well as to a sharpening of some of the central concepts of set-theoretic geology, such as the fact that the mantle coincides with the generic mantle and is a model of ZFC. I shall also present Usuba’s related result that if there is a hyper-huge cardinal, then there is a bedrock model, a smallest ground. I find this to be a surprising and incredible result, as it shows that large cardinal existence axioms have consequences on the structure of grounds for the universe.
See my blog post about this talk.
Professor Hamkins (Ph.D. 1994 UC Berkeley) conducts research in mathematical and philosophical logic, particularly set theory, with a focus on the mathematics and philosophy of the infinite. He has been particularly interested in the interaction of forcing and large cardinals, two central themes of contemporary set-theoretic research. He has worked in the theory of infinitary computability, introducing (with A. Lewis and J. Kidder) the theory of infinite time Turing machines, as well as in the theory of infinitary utilitarianism and, more recently, infinite chess. His work on the automorphism tower problem lies at the intersection of group theory and set theory. Recently, he has been preoccupied with various mathematical and philosophical issues surrounding the set-theoretic multiverse, engaging with the emerging debate on pluralism in the philosophy of set theory, as well as the mathematical questions to which they lead, such as in his work on the modal logic of forcing and set-theoretic geology.