Tuesday, July 9, 2013

1307.1885 (H. Andréka et al.)

Comparing theories: the dynamics of changing vocabulary. A case-study in
relativity theory

H. Andréka, I. Németi
There are several first-order logic (FOL) axiomatizations of special relativity theory in the literature, all looking essentially different but claiming to axiomatize the same physical theory. In this paper, we elaborate a comparison, in the framework of mathematical logic, between these FOL theories for special relativity. For this comparison, we use a version of mathematical definability theory in which new entities can also be defined besides new relations over already available entities. In particular, we build an interpretation of the reference-frame oriented theory SpecRel into the observationally oriented Signalling theory of James Ax. This interpretation provides SpecRel with an operational/experimental semantics. Then we make precise, "quantitative" comparisons between these two theories via using the notion of definitional equivalence. This is an application of logic to the philosophy of science and physics in the spirit of Johan van Benthem's work.
View original: http://arxiv.org/abs/1307.1885

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