Pfaffian functions vs. Rolle leaves
In the early 1980s, after Khovanskii’s ICM lecture, van den Dries formulated the conjecture that the expansion P of the real field by all pfaffian functions was model complete. Thinking about the problem led him to formulate a minimality notion in expansions of the real order, which directly inspired Pillay and Steinhorn in their discovery of o-minimality. However, while P has been known to be o-minimal since Wilkie’s groundbreaking work in 1996, van den Dries’s conjecture is still open today. Recently, Lion and I proved a variant of this conjecture, in which “pfaffian functions” are replaced with “nested Rolle leaves”, which in essence correspond to the objects originally studied by Khovanskii. The mystery lies in how these two expansions are related. I will explain each of them and exhibit a third related notion, found recently in joint work with Jones, which might clarify this relationship.
Patrick Speissegger is Professor and Canada Research Chair at McMaster University, where he studies model theory, o-minimal structures and real analytic geometry. He received his doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.