A Categorical Account of Composition Methods in Logic: Conclusions, Acknowledgments & Referencesby@escholar

A Categorical Account of Composition Methods in Logic: Conclusions, Acknowledgments & References

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In this paper, we present a categorical theory of the composition methods in finite model theory – a key technique enabling modular reasoning.
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Composition Methods in Logic: Conclusions, Acknowledgments & References
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This paper is available on arxiv under CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED license.


(1) Tomáš Jakl, Czech Academy of Sciences and Czech Technical University;

(2) Dan Marsden, School of Computer Science University of Nottingham;

(3) Nihil Shah, Department of Computer Science University of Oxford.


We presented a categorical approach to the composition method, and specifically Feferman–Vaught–Mostowski theorems. We exploit game comonads to encapsulate the logics and their model comparison games. Surprising connections to classical constructions in category theory, and especially the monad theory of bilinear maps emerged from this approach, cf. Section V-A.

For finite model theorists, our work provides a novel highlevel account of many FVM theorems, abstracting away from individual logics and constructions. Furthermore, concrete instances of these theorems are verified purely semantically, by finding a suitable collection homomorphisms forming a Kleisli law satisfying (S2’), instead of the usual delicate verification that strategies of model comparison games compose. For game comonads, we provide a much needed tool that enables us to handle logical relationships between structures as they are transformed or viewed in terms of different logics.

The FVM results in this paper, combined with judicious use of the techniques described in Section VII can be pushed significantly further. FVM theorems and the compositional method are of particular significance in the setting of monadic second-order (MSO) logic [49]. Exploiting the results we have presented for the composition method, a follow up paper will give a comonadic semantics for MSO, and develop a semantic account of Courcelle’s algorithmic meta-theorems [5].

The original theorem of Feferman–Vaught [3] is very flexible, including incorporating structure on the indices of families of models to be combined by an operation, as well as the models themselves. This aspect is currently outside the scope of our comonadic methods. An ad-hoc adaptation of our approach also gives a proof of the FVM theorem for free amalgamations, but this does not follow directly from our theorems. Developing these extensions is left to future work.

The present work bears some resemblance to Turi and Plotkin’s bialgebraic semantics [50], a categorical model of structural operational semantics (SOS) [51]. Turi and Plotkin noticed that the SOS rules assigning behaviour to syntax could be abstracted as a certain distributive law λ. An algebra encodes the composition operations of the syntax, and a coalgebra the behaviour. If this pair is suitably compatible with λ, forming a so-called λ-bialgebra, then crucially bisimulation is a congruence with respect to the composition operations. Both bialgebraic semantics and our work presented in this paper give a categorical account of well-behaved composition operations, with the interaction between composition and observable behaviour mediated by some form of distributive law. There are also essential differences: bialgebraic semantics typically focuses on assigning behaviour to syntax, whereas FVM theorems encompass operations on models. Our FVM theorems are parametric in a choice of logic or observable behaviour, while the notion of bisimulation in bialgebraic semantics is fixed by the coalgebra signature functor. The natural presence of positive existential and counting quantifier variants of FVM theorems, and the incorporation of resource parameters, do not seem to have a direct analogue in bialgebraic semantics. The similarities are intriguing, and exploring the relationship between bialgebraic semantics and our approach to FVM theorems is left to future work.

Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Clemens Berger for suggesting the connection with parametric adjoints and Nathanael Arkor for his suggestions on terminology. We are also grateful to the members of the EPSRC project “Resources and co-resources” for their feedback.


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