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

```Dear Bruno,

Thank you for writing this remark! It is very helpful. I could see where
there could be some debate on the constructability claim, as the set of all
programs in L could be infinite and thus the lexicographic ordering would
be a supertask in that case, but that can be ignored for now.
My interest now is in the computational Word Problem. I have more
homework to do.```
```

On Sun, Jan 19, 2014 at 6:33 AM, Bruno Marchal <marc...@ulb.ac.be> wrote:

> Stephen, Liz,
>
> On 18 Jan 2014, at 00:02, LizR wrote:
>
> On 18 January 2014 11:39, Stephen Paul King <stephe...@provensecure.com>wrote:
>
>> Dear John,
>>
>>   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".*
>>
>>   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?
>>
>
> 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) ?
>
> Surely the halting problem?
>
>
> Of more easily the totality problem. It is more complex than halting, and
> thus more easily shown to be non computable.
>
> Let me do it here, as I promise to Stephen. It is almost a direct
> consequence of Church thesis.
>
> 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.
>
> 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.
>
> Theorem: Church's thesis entails that L describes more than just all TOTAL
> functions.
>
> 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
>
> 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).
>
> So that function g as some program p_k, and thus compute some function f_k
> belonging to the list (L is universal).
>
> 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
>
> So either L is not universal (and Church is wrong), or f_k(k) is not
> defined, and f_k is not total.
>
> 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.
>
> 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.
>
> 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.
>
> 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.
>
> So the attribute of a code "computing a total function" cannot be
> computable. QED.
>
> OK? (you have to read this with pencil and paper!)
>
> This was a constructive proof, leading to a meaningful predicate ("TOTAL")
> being not computable.
>
> 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.
>
> (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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> http://iridia.ulb.ac.be/~marchal/
>
>
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Kindest Regards,

Stephen Paul King

Senior Researcher

Mobile: (864) 567-3099

stephe...@provensecure.com

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