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Temporal Logic

First published Mon Nov 29, 1999; substantive revision Thu Feb 7, 2008

The term Temporal Logic has been broadly used to cover all approaches to the representation of temporal information within a logical framework, and also more narrowly to refer specifically to themodal-logic type of approach introduced around 1960 by Arthur Prior under the name of Tense Logicand subsequently developed further by logicians and computer scientists.Applications of Temporal Logic include its use as a formalism for clarifying philosophical issuesabout time, as a framework within which to define the semantics of temporal expressions in naturallanguage, as a language for encoding temporal knowledge in artificial intelligence, and as a tool for handling the temporal aspects of the execution of computer programs.

y

1. Modal-logic approaches to temporal logic

y

2

. Predicate-logic approaches to temporal logic

y

3

. Philosophical issues

y

4

. Applications

1.

Modal-logic approaches to temporal logic

1.1

Tense Logic

Tense Logic was introduced by Arthur Prior (1957, 1967, 1969) as a result of an interest in therelationship between tense and modality attributed to the Megarian philosopher Diodorus Cronus (ca.

34

0-

28

0 BCE). For the historical context leading up to the introduction of Tense Logic, as well as itssubsequent developments, see Øhrstrøm and Hasle, 1995.The logical language of Tense Logic contains, in addition to the usual truth-functional operators, four modal operators with intended meanings as follows:

P

³It has at some time been the case that «´

F

³It will at some time be the case that «´

H

³It has always been the case that «´

G

³It will always be the case that «´

P

and

F

are known as the

weak tense operators

, while

H

and

G

are known as the

strong tenseoperators

. The two pairs are generally regarded as interdefinable by way of the equivalences

P

p

¬

H

¬

p

Fp

¬

G

¬

p

On the basis of these intended meanings, Prior used the operators to build formulae expressing various philosophical theses about time, which might be taken as axioms of a formal system if so desired.Some examples of such formulae, with Prior's own glosses (from Prior 1967), are:

Gp

Fp

³What will always be, will be´

2

G

(

p

q

)(

Gp

Gq

) ³If

p

will always imply

q

, then if

p

will always be the case, so will

q

´

Fp

FFp

³If it will be the case that

p

, it will be ² in between ² that it will be´¬

Fp

F

¬

Fp

³If it will never be that

p

then it will be that it will never be that

p

´Prior (1967) reports on the extensive early work on various systems of Tense Logic obtained by postulating different combination of axioms, and in particular he considered in some detail what lighta logical treatment of time can throw on classic problems concerning time, necessity and existence; for example, ³deterministic´ arguments that have been advanced over the ages to the effect that ³what will be, will necessarily be´, corresponding to the modal tense-logical formula

Fp

Fp

.Of particular significance is the system of

Minimal Tense Logic

K

t

, which is generated by the four axioms

p

HFp

³What is, has always been going to be´

p

G

P

p

³What is, will always have been´

H

(

p

q

)(

Hp

Hq

) ³Whatever has always followed from what always has been, always has been´

G

(

p

q

)(

Gp

Gq

) ³Whatever will always follow from what always will be, always will be´together with the two rules of temporal inference:

RH

: From a proof of

p

, derive a proof of

Hp

RG

: From a proof of

p

, derive a proof of

Gp

and, of course, all the rules of ordinary Propositional Logic. The theorems of

K

t

express, essentially,those properties of the tense operators which do not depend on any specific assumptions about thetemporal order. This characterisation is made more precise below.Tense Logic is obtained by adding the tense operators to an existing logic; above this was tacitlyassumed to be the classical Propositional Calculus. Other tense-logical systems are obtained by takingdifferent logical bases. Of obvious interest is tensed predicate logic, where the tense operators areadded to classical First-order Predicate Calculus. This enables us to express important distinctionsconcerning the logic of time and existence. For example, the statement

A philosopher will be a king

can be interpreted in several different ways, such as

x

(Philosopher(

x

) &

F

King(

x

))Someone who is now a philosopher will be a king at some futuretime

x

F

(Philosopher(

x

) & King(

x

))There now exists someone who will at some future time be both a philosopher and a king

F

x

(Philosopher(

x

) &

F

King(

x

))There will exist someone who is a philosopher and later will be aking

F

x

(Philosopher(

x

) & King(

x

))There will exist someone who is at the same time both a philosopher and a kingThe interpretation of such formulae is not unproblematic, however. The problem concerns the domainof quantification. For the second two formulae above to bear the interpretations given to them, it isnecessary that the domain of quantification is always relative to a time: thus in the semantics it will benecessary to introduce a domain of quantification

D

(

t

) for each time

t

. But this can lead to problems if

3

we want to establish relations between objects existing at different times, as for example in thestatement ³One of my friends is descended from a follower of William the Conqueror´.These problems are related to the so-called

B

arcan formulae

of modal logic, a temporal analogue of which is

F

x

p

(

x

)

x

Fp

(

x

) (³If there will be something that is

p

, then there is now something that will be

p

´)This formula can only be guaranteed to be true if there is a constant domain that holds for all points intime; under this assumption, bare existence (as expressed by the existential quantifier) will need to besupplemented by a temporally restricted existence predicate (which might be read 'is extant') in order to refer to different objects existing at different times. For more on this and related matters, see vanBenthem, 1995, Section 7.

1.2

Extensions to Tense Logic

Soon after its introduction, the basic ³PFGH´ syntax of Tense Logic was extended in various ways,and such extensions have continued to this day. Some important examples are the following:

The binary temporal operators S and U (³since´ and ³until´)

. These were introduced by Kamp(196

8

). The intended meanings are

S

pq

³

q

has been true since a time when

p

was true´

Upq

³

q

will be true until a time when

p

is true´It is possible to define the one-place tense operators in terms of

S

and

U

as follows:

P

p

S

p

(

p

¬

p

)

Fp

Up

(

p

¬

p

)The importance of the

S

and

U

operators is that they are expressively complete with respect to first-order temporal properties on continuous, strictly linear temporal orders (which is not true for the one- place operators on their own).

Metric tense logic

. Prior introduced the notation Fnp to mean ³It will be the case the interval

n

hencethat

p

´. We do not need a separate notation Pnp since we can write

F

(-

n

)

p

for ³It was the case theinterval

n

ago that

P

´. The case

n

=0 gives us the present tense. We can define the general, non-metricoperators by

P

p

n

(

n

<0 &

Fnp

)

Fp

n

(

n

>0 &

Fnp

)

Hp

n

(

n

<0

Fnp

)

Gp

n

(

n

>0

Fnp

)

The ³next time´ operator O

. This operator assumes that the time series consists of a discretesequence of atomic times. The formula

O

p

is then intended to mean that

p

is true at the immediatelysucceeding time step. Given that time is discrete, it can be defined in terms of the ³until´ operator

U

by

O

p

Up

(

p

&¬

p

)