A Natural Axiomatization of Computability and Proof of Church’s Thesis

  • Nachum Dershowitz ,
  • Yuri Gurevich

The Bulletin of Symbolic Logic | , Vol 14(3)

Church’s Thesis asserts that the only numeric functions that can be calculated by effective means are the recursive ones, which are the same, extensionally, as the Turing-computable numeric functions. The Abstract State Machine Theorem states that every classical algorithm is behaviorally equivalent to an abstract state machine. This theorem presupposes three natural postulates about algorithmic computation. Here, we show that augmenting those postulates with an additional requirement regarding basic operations gives a natural axiomatization of computability and a proof of Church’s Thesis, as Goedel and others suggested may be possible. In a similar way, but with a different set of basic operations, one can prove Turing’s Thesis, characterizing the effective string functions, and—in particular—the effectively-computable functions on string representations of numbers.

An earlier version was published as Microsoft Research technical report MSR-TR-2007-85, July 2007.