# Propositional calculus

**Propositional calculus** is a branch of logic. It is also called **propositional logic**, **statement logic**, **sentential calculus**, **sentential logic**, or sometimes **zeroth-order logic**. It deals with propositions (which can be true or false) and relations between propositions, including the construction of arguments based on them. Compound propositions are formed by connecting propositions by logical connectives. Propositions that contain no logical connectives are called atomic propositions.

Unlike first-order logic, propositional logic does not deal with non-logical objects, predicates about them, or quantifiers. However, all the machinery of propositional logic is included in first-order logic and higher-order logics. In this sense, propositional logic is the foundation of first-order logic and higher-order logic.

Logical connectives are found in natural languages. In English for example, some examples are "and" (conjunction), "or" (disjunction), "not" (negation) and "if" (but only when used to denote material conditional).

The following is an example of a very simple inference within the scope of propositional logic:

Both premises and the conclusion are propositions. The premises are taken for granted, and with the application of modus ponens (an inference rule), the conclusion follows.

As propositional logic is not concerned with the structure of propositions beyond the point where they can't be decomposed any more by logical connectives, this inference can be restated replacing those *atomic* statements with statement letters, which are interpreted as variables representing statements:

When P is interpreted as "It's raining" and Q as "it's cloudy" the above symbolic expressions can be seen to correspond exactly with the original expression in natural language. Not only that, but they will also correspond with any other inference of this *form*, which will be valid on the same basis this inference is.

Propositional logic may be studied through a formal system in which formulas of a formal language may be interpreted to represent propositions. A system of axioms and inference rules allows certain formulas to be derived. These derived formulas are called theorems and may be interpreted to be true propositions. A constructed sequence of such formulas is known as a *derivation* or *proof* and the last formula of the sequence is the theorem. The derivation may be interpreted as proof of the proposition represented by the theorem.

In classical **truth-functional propositional logic**, formulas are interpreted as having precisely one of two possible truth values, the truth value of *true* or the truth value of *false*.^{[1]} The principle of bivalence and the law of excluded middle are upheld. Truth-functional propositional logic defined as such and systems isomorphic to it are considered to be **zeroth-order logic**. However, alternative propositional logics are also possible. For more, see Other logical calculi below.

Although propositional logic (which is interchangeable with propositional calculus) had been hinted by earlier philosophers, it was developed into a formal logic (Stoic logic) by Chrysippus in the 3rd century BC^{[2]} and expanded by his successor Stoics. The logic was focused on propositions. This advancement was different from the traditional syllogistic logic, which was focused on terms. However, most of the original writings were lost^{[3]} and the propositional logic developed by the Stoics was no longer understood later in antiquity.^{[citation needed]} Consequently, the system was essentially reinvented by Peter Abelard in the 12th century.^{[4]}

Propositional logic was eventually refined using symbolic logic. The 17th/18th-century mathematician Gottfried Leibniz has been credited with being the founder of symbolic logic for his work with the calculus ratiocinator. Although his work was the first of its kind, it was unknown to the larger logical community. Consequently, many of the advances achieved by Leibniz were recreated by logicians like George Boole and Augustus De Morgan—completely independent of Leibniz.^{[5]}

Just as propositional logic can be considered an advancement from the earlier syllogistic logic, Gottlob Frege's predicate logic can be also considered an advancement from the earlier propositional logic. One author describes predicate logic as combining "the distinctive features of syllogistic logic and propositional logic."^{[6]} Consequently, predicate logic ushered in a new era in logic's history; however, advances in propositional logic were still made after Frege, including natural deduction, truth trees and truth tables. Natural deduction was invented by Gerhard Gentzen and Jan Łukasiewicz. Truth trees were invented by Evert Willem Beth.^{[7]} The invention of truth tables, however, is of uncertain attribution.

Within works by Frege^{[8]} and Bertrand Russell,^{[9]} are ideas influential to the invention of truth tables. The actual tabular structure (being formatted as a table), itself, is generally credited to either Ludwig Wittgenstein or Emil Post (or both, independently).^{[8]} Besides Frege and Russell, others credited with having ideas preceding truth tables include Philo, Boole, Charles Sanders Peirce,^{[10]} and Ernst Schröder. Others credited with the tabular structure include Jan Łukasiewicz, Alfred North Whitehead, William Stanley Jevons, John Venn, and Clarence Irving Lewis.^{[9]} Ultimately, some have concluded, like John Shosky, that "It is far from clear that any one person should be given the title of 'inventor' of truth-tables.".^{[9]}

In general terms, a calculus is a formal system that consists of a set of syntactic expressions (*well-formed formulas*), a distinguished subset of these expressions (axioms), plus a set of formal rules that define a specific binary relation, intended to be interpreted as logical equivalence, on the space of expressions.

When the formal system is intended to be a logical system, the expressions are meant to be interpreted as statements, and the rules, known to be *inference rules*, are typically intended to be truth-preserving. In this setting, the rules, which may include axioms, can then be used to derive ("infer") formulas representing true statements—from given formulas representing true statements.

The set of axioms may be empty, a nonempty finite set, or a countably infinite set (see axiom schema). A formal grammar recursively defines the expressions and well-formed formulas of the language. In addition a semantics may be given which defines truth and valuations (or interpretations).

A *well-formed formula* is any atomic formula, or any formula that can be built up from atomic formulas by means of operator symbols according to the rules of the grammar.

Mathematicians sometimes distinguish between propositional constants, propositional variables, and schemata. Propositional constants represent some particular proposition, while propositional variables range over the set of all atomic propositions. Schemata, however, range over all propositions. It is common to represent propositional constants by A, B, and C, propositional variables by P, Q, and R, and schematic letters are often Greek letters, most often φ, ψ, and χ.

The following outlines a standard propositional calculus. Many different formulations exist which are all more or less equivalent, but differ in the details of:

Any given proposition may be represented with a letter called a 'propositional constant', analogous to representing a number by a letter in mathematics (e.g., *a* = 5). All propositions require exactly one of two truth-values: true or false. For example, let P be the proposition that it is raining outside. This will be true (P) if it is raining outside, and false otherwise (¬*P*).

It is very helpful to look at the truth tables for these different operators, as well as the method of analytic tableaux.

Propositional logic is closed under truth-functional connectives. That is to say, for any proposition φ, ¬*φ* is also a proposition. Likewise, for any propositions φ and ψ, *φ* ∧ *ψ* is a proposition, and similarly for disjunction, conditional, and biconditional. This implies that, for instance, *φ* ∧ *ψ* is a proposition, and so it can be conjoined with another proposition. In order to represent this, we need to use parentheses to indicate which proposition is conjoined with which. For instance, *P* ∧ *Q* ∧ *R* is not a well-formed formula, because we do not know if we are conjoining *P* ∧ *Q* with R or if we are conjoining P with *Q* ∧ *R*. Thus we must write either (*P* ∧ *Q*) ∧ *R* to represent the former, or *P* ∧ (*Q* ∧ *R*) to represent the latter. By evaluating the truth conditions, we see that both expressions have the same truth conditions (will be true in the same cases), and moreover that any proposition formed by arbitrary conjunctions will have the same truth conditions, regardless of the location of the parentheses. This means that conjunction is associative, however, one should not assume that parentheses never serve a purpose. For instance, the sentence *P* ∧ (*Q* ∨ *R*) does not have the same truth conditions of (*P* ∧ *Q*) ∨ *R*, so they are different sentences distinguished only by the parentheses. One can verify this by the truth-table method referenced above.

Note: For any arbitrary number of propositional constants, we can form a finite number of cases which list their possible truth-values. A simple way to generate this is by truth-tables, in which one writes P, Q, ..., Z, for any list of k propositional constants—that is to say, any list of propositional constants with k entries. Below this list, one writes 2^{k} rows, and below P one fills in the first half of the rows with true (or T) and the second half with false (or F). Below Q one fills in one-quarter of the rows with T, then one-quarter with F, then one-quarter with T and the last quarter with F. The next column alternates between true and false for each eighth of the rows, then sixteenths, and so on, until the last propositional constant varies between T and F for each row. This will give a complete listing of cases or truth-value assignments possible for those propositional constants.

The propositional calculus then defines an *argument* to be a list of propositions. A valid argument is a list of propositions, the last of which follows from—or is implied by—the rest. All other arguments are invalid. The simplest valid argument is modus ponens, one instance of which is the following list of propositions:

This generalizes schematically. Thus, where φ and ψ may be any propositions at all,

Other argument forms are convenient, but not necessary. Given a complete set of axioms (see below for one such set), modus ponens is sufficient to prove all other argument forms in propositional logic, thus they may be considered to be a derivative. Note, this is not true of the extension of propositional logic to other logics like first-order logic. First-order logic requires at least one additional rule of inference in order to obtain completeness.

Repeated applications of these rules permits the construction of complex formulas. For example:

In the following example of a propositional calculus, the transformation rules are intended to be interpreted as the inference rules of a so-called *natural deduction system*. The particular system presented here has no initial points, which means that its interpretation for logical applications derives its theorems from an empty axiom set.

Our propositional calculus has eleven inference rules. These rules allow us to derive other true formulas given a set of formulas that are assumed to be true. The first ten simply state that we can infer certain well-formed formulas from other well-formed formulas. The last rule however uses hypothetical reasoning in the sense that in the premise of the rule we temporarily assume an (unproven) hypothesis to be part of the set of inferred formulas to see if we can infer a certain other formula. Since the first ten rules don't do this they are usually described as *non-hypothetical* rules, and the last one as a *hypothetical* rule.

One of the main uses of a propositional calculus, when interpreted for logical applications, is to determine relations of logical equivalence between propositional formulas. These relationships are determined by means of the available transformation rules, sequences of which are called *derivations* or *proofs*.

In the discussion to follow, a proof is presented as a sequence of numbered lines, with each line consisting of a single formula followed by a *reason* or *justification* for introducing that formula. Each premise of the argument, that is, an assumption introduced as an hypothesis of the argument, is listed at the beginning of the sequence and is marked as a "premise" in lieu of other justification. The conclusion is listed on the last line. A proof is complete if every line follows from the previous ones by the correct application of a transformation rule. (For a contrasting approach, see proof-trees).

The crucial properties of this set of rules are that they are *sound* and *complete*. Informally this means that the rules are correct and that no other rules are required. These claims can be made more formal as follows.
Note that the proofs for the soundness and completeness of the propositional logic are not themselves proofs in propositional logic ; these are theorems in ZFC used as a metatheory to prove properties of propositional logic.

We define a *truth assignment* as a function that maps propositional variables to **true** or **false**. Informally such a truth assignment can be understood as the description of a possible state of affairs (or possible world) where certain statements are true and others are not. The semantics of formulas can then be formalized by defining for which "state of affairs" they are considered to be true, which is what is done by the following definition.

We define when such a truth assignment A satisfies a certain well-formed formula with the following rules:

With this definition we can now formalize what it means for a formula φ to be implied by a certain set S of formulas. Informally this is true if in all worlds that are possible given the set of formulas S the formula φ also holds. This leads to the following formal definition: We say that a set S of well-formed formulas *semantically entails* (or *implies*) a certain well-formed formula φ if all truth assignments that satisfy all the formulas in S also satisfy φ.

Finally we define *syntactical entailment* such that φ is syntactically entailed by S if and only if we can derive it with the inference rules that were presented above in a finite number of steps. This allows us to formulate exactly what it means for the set of inference rules to be sound and complete:

**Soundness:** If the set of well-formed formulas S *syntactically* entails the well-formed formula φ then S *semantically* entails φ.

**Completeness:** If the set of well-formed formulas S *semantically* entails the well-formed formula φ then S *syntactically* entails φ.

(For most logical systems, this is the comparatively "simple" direction of proof)

Notational conventions: Let G be a variable ranging over sets of sentences. Let A, B and C range over sentences. For "G syntactically entails A" we write "G proves A". For "G semantically entails A" we write "G implies A".

We note that "G proves A" has an inductive definition, and that gives us the immediate resources for demonstrating claims of the form "If G proves A, then ...". So our proof proceeds by induction.

Notice that Basis Step II can be omitted for natural deduction systems because they have no axioms. When used, Step II involves showing that each of the axioms is a (semantic) logical truth.

The Basis steps demonstrate that the simplest provable sentences from G are also implied by G, for any G. (The proof is simple, since the semantic fact that a set implies any of its members, is also trivial.) The Inductive step will systematically cover all the further sentences that might be provable—by considering each case where we might reach a logical conclusion using an inference rule—and shows that if a new sentence is provable, it is also logically implied. (For example, we might have a rule telling us that from "A" we can derive "A or B". In III.a We assume that if A is provable it is implied. We also know that if A is provable then "A or B" is provable. We have to show that then "A or B" too is implied. We do so by appeal to the semantic definition and the assumption we just made. A is provable from G, we assume. So it is also implied by G. So any semantic valuation making all of G true makes A true. But any valuation making A true makes "A or B" true, by the defined semantics for "or". So any valuation which makes all of G true makes "A or B" true. So "A or B" is implied.) Generally, the Inductive step will consist of a lengthy but simple case-by-case analysis of all the rules of inference, showing that each "preserves" semantic implication.

By the definition of provability, there are no sentences provable other than by being a member of G, an axiom, or following by a rule; so if all of those are semantically implied, the deduction calculus is sound.

We want to show: If G implies A, then G proves A. We proceed by contraposition: We show instead that if G does **not** prove A then G does **not** imply A. If we show that there is a model where A does not hold despite G being true, then obviously G does not imply A. The idea is to build such a model out of our very assumption that G does not prove A.

Thus every system that has modus ponens as an inference rule, and proves the following theorems (including substitutions thereof) is complete:

The first five are used for the satisfaction of the five conditions in stage III above, and the last three for proving the deduction theorem.

For the proof we may use the hypothetical syllogism theorem (in the form relevant for this axiomatic system), since it only relies on the two axioms that are already in the above set of eight theorems. The proof then is as follows:

We now verify that the classical propositional calculus system described earlier can indeed prove the required eight theorems mentioned above. We use several lemmas proven here:

We also use the method of the hypothetical syllogism metatheorem as a shorthand for several proof steps.

If a formula is a tautology, then there is a truth table for it which shows that each valuation yields the value true for the formula. Consider such a valuation. By mathematical induction on the length of the subformulas, show that the truth or falsity of the subformula follows from the truth or falsity (as appropriate for the valuation) of each propositional variable in the subformula. Then combine the lines of the truth table together two at a time by using "(P is true implies S) implies ((P is false implies S) implies S)". Keep repeating this until all dependencies on propositional variables have been eliminated. The result is that we have proved the given tautology. Since every tautology is provable, the logic is complete.

It is possible to define another version of propositional calculus, which defines most of the syntax of the logical operators by means of axioms, and which uses only one inference rule.

Let φ, χ, and ψ stand for well-formed formulas. (The well-formed formulas themselves would not contain any Greek letters, but only capital Roman letters, connective operators, and parentheses.) Then the axioms are as follows:

Let a demonstration be represented by a sequence, with hypotheses to the left of the turnstile and the conclusion to the right of the turnstile. Then the deduction theorem can be stated as follows:

This deduction theorem (DT) is not itself formulated with propositional calculus: it is not a theorem of propositional calculus, but a theorem about propositional calculus. In this sense, it is a meta-theorem, comparable to theorems about the soundness or completeness of propositional calculus.

On the other hand, DT is so useful for simplifying the syntactical proof process that it can be considered and used as another inference rule, accompanying modus ponens. In this sense, DT corresponds to the natural conditional proof inference rule which is part of the first version of propositional calculus introduced in this article.

*has been demonstrated, then it is also possible to demonstrate the sequence*

in fact, the validity of the converse of DT is almost trivial compared to that of DT:

The converse of DT has powerful implications: it can be used to convert an axiom into an inference rule. For example, the axiom AND-1,

can be transformed by means of the converse of the deduction theorem into the inference rule

which is conjunction elimination, one of the ten inference rules used in the first version (in this article) of the propositional calculus.

The following is an example of a (syntactical) demonstration, involving only axioms **THEN-1** and **THEN-2**:

The preceding alternative calculus is an example of a Hilbert-style deduction system. In the case of propositional systems the axioms are terms built with logical connectives and the only inference rule is modus ponens. Equational logic as standardly used informally in high school algebra is a different kind of calculus from Hilbert systems. Its theorems are equations and its inference rules express the properties of equality, namely that it is a congruence on terms that admits substitution.

Similar but more complex translations to and from algebraic logics are possible for natural deduction systems as described above and for the sequent calculus. The entailments of the latter can be interpreted as two-valued, but a more insightful interpretation is as a set, the elements of which can be understood as abstract proofs organized as the morphisms of a category. In this interpretation the cut rule of the sequent calculus corresponds to composition in the category. Boolean and Heyting algebras enter this picture as special categories having at most one morphism per homset, i.e., one proof per entailment, corresponding to the idea that existence of proofs is all that matters: any proof will do and there is no point in distinguishing them.

It is possible to generalize the definition of a formal language from a set of finite sequences over a finite basis to include many other sets of mathematical structures, so long as they are built up by finitary means from finite materials. What's more, many of these families of formal structures are especially well-suited for use in logic.

For example, there are many families of graphs that are close enough analogues of formal languages that the concept of a calculus is quite easily and naturally extended to them. Many species of graphs arise as *parse graphs* in the syntactic analysis of the corresponding families of text structures. The exigencies of practical computation on formal languages frequently demand that text strings be converted into pointer structure renditions of parse graphs, simply as a matter of checking whether strings are well-formed formulas or not. Once this is done, there are many advantages to be gained from developing the graphical analogue of the calculus on strings. The mapping from strings to parse graphs is called *parsing* and the inverse mapping from parse graphs to strings is achieved by an operation that is called *traversing* the graph.

Propositional calculus is about the simplest kind of logical calculus in current use. It can be extended in several ways. (Aristotelian "syllogistic" calculus, which is largely supplanted in modern logic, is in *some* ways simpler – but in other ways more complex – than propositional calculus.) The most immediate way to develop a more complex logical calculus is to introduce rules that are sensitive to more fine-grained details of the sentences being used.

First-order logic (a.k.a. first-order predicate logic) results when the "atomic sentences" of propositional logic are broken up into terms, variables, predicates, and quantifiers, all keeping the rules of propositional logic with some new ones introduced. (For example, from "All dogs are mammals" we may infer "If Rover is a dog then Rover is a mammal".) With the tools of first-order logic it is possible to formulate a number of theories, either with explicit axioms or by rules of inference, that can themselves be treated as logical calculi. Arithmetic is the best known of these; others include set theory and mereology. Second-order logic and other higher-order logics are formal extensions of first-order logic. Thus, it makes sense to refer to propositional logic as *"zeroth-order logic"*, when comparing it with these logics.

Modal logic also offers a variety of inferences that cannot be captured in propositional calculus. For example, from "Necessarily p" we may infer that p. From p we may infer "It is possible that p". The translation between modal logics and algebraic logics concerns classical and intuitionistic logics but with the introduction of a unary operator on Boolean or Heyting algebras, different from the Boolean operations, interpreting the possibility modality, and in the case of Heyting algebra a second operator interpreting necessity (for Boolean algebra this is redundant since necessity is the De Morgan dual of possibility). The first operator preserves 0 and disjunction while the second preserves 1 and conjunction.

Many-valued logics are those allowing sentences to have values other than *true* and *false*. (For example, *neither* and *both* are standard "extra values"; "continuum logic" allows each sentence to have any of an infinite number of "degrees of truth" between *true* and *false*.) These logics often require calculational devices quite distinct from propositional calculus. When the values form a Boolean algebra (which may have more than two or even infinitely many values), many-valued logic reduces to classical logic; many-valued logics are therefore only of independent interest when the values form an algebra that is not Boolean.

Finding solutions to propositional logic formulas is an NP-complete problem. However, practical methods exist (e.g., DPLL algorithm, 1962; Chaff algorithm, 2001) that are very fast for many useful cases. Recent work has extended the SAT solver algorithms to work with propositions containing arithmetic expressions; these are the SMT solvers.