# Church thesis => non computable functions exist (Re: Edge.org: 2014 : WHAT SCIENTIFIC IDEA IS READY FOR RETIREMENT? The Computational Metaphor

```Stephen, Liz,

On 18 Jan 2014, at 00:02, LizR wrote:```
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On 18 January 2014 11:39, Stephen Paul King <stephe...@provensecure.com > wrote:
```Dear John,

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I invite your comment on a statement and question: There is not observable difference between "X is non-computable" and "there does not exist sufficient resources to complete the computation of Y".
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Are X and Y effectively the same thing, everything else being equal? If there is a difference that makes a difference, what might it be?
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In other words, is anything non-computable because of some theoretical reason, rather than "merely local geographical" ones (which might cease to be restrictions if, say, our local even horizon expands, or we construct wormholes to other universe) ?
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Surely the halting problem?
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Of more easily the totality problem. It is more complex than halting, and thus more easily shown to be non computable.
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Let me do it here, as I promise to Stephen. It is almost a direct consequence of Church thesis.
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I recall that a function (from N to N) is said TOTAL computable if you can explain in a finite set of words, in one formal language, with a decidable simple grammar, how to compute it on each (cf TOTAL) natural numbers, in a finite time, and this to a sufficiently dumb person.
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Church's thesis: there is a universal language L in which all TOTAL functions can be described/coded, and my language "lambda calculus" is such a language.
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Theorem: Church's thesis entails that L describes more than just all TOTAL functions.
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Proof: suppose that L describes only the TOTAL functions. We can lexicographically order all programs in L (due to the clear decidable grammar) p0, p1, p2, p3, .... Let us call f_i the function computed by p_i
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Then we can define a function g such that g(n) = f_n(n) + 1. Indeed we can even program it in L. (To compute it on n, generate the list up to p_n and apply p_n on n, then add 1. As all f_n are total, this gives a total function (everywhere defined on N).
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So that function g as some program p_k, and thus compute some function f_k belonging to the list (L is universal).
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But then, let us apply g on its own code k, we have g(k) = f_k(k), given that g = f_k. But we have also that g(k) = f_k(k) + 1, by definition of g. So f_k(k) = f_k(k) + 1. And, by totality, f_k(k) is a number. So I can subtract it from both side in the preceding equality, and we get
```0 = 1. Contradiction.

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So either L is not universal (and Church is wrong), or f_k(k) is not defined, and f_k is not total.
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Then if you look in "lambda calculus", you can empirically observe that f_k(k) is indeed not defined: p_k does not stop on k. Making Church thesis consistent.
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So if Church thesis is true, and if some language L is truly universal, the list of its programs p_i will go through all total computable functions (by universality), but will also go through many NON TOTAL functions.
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And, the key point, you will not been able to use any program to distinguish the code of the total function from the code of the non total one.
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Why? Because if that was the case, you would be able to filter out the non total function from the list of all programs p_i, and you would get a computable enumeration (list) of all, and only the total functions, and the diagonal above would again conclude that 0 = 1.
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So the attribute of a code "computing a total function" cannot be computable. QED.
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OK? (you have to read this with pencil and paper!)

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This was a constructive proof, leading to a meaningful predicate ("TOTAL") being not computable.
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Thi entails a strong form of incompleteness: no effective theory (with checkable proofs) can ever decide if some arbitrary code is the code of a total, or not, function.
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(Note that a far easier, but non constructive and less informative, proof is given directly by Cantor theorem. The computable functions are codable, making them enumerable, but N^N, the set of all functions from N to N is NOT enumerable by Cantor theorem.
```So almost all functions from N to N are not computable.)

Bruno

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