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Natural Deduction (ND) is a common name for the class of proof systems composed of

simple and self-evident inference rules based upon methods of proof and traditional ways of

reasoning that have been applied since antiquity in deductive practice. The first formal ND

systems were independently constructed in the 1930s by G. Gentzen and S. Jakowski and

proposed as an alternative to Hilbert-style axiomatic systems. Gentzen introduced a format of

ND particularly useful for theoretical investigations of the structure of proofs. Jakowski instead

provided a format of ND more suitable for practical purposes of proof search. Since then many

other ND systems were developed of apparently different character.

Prehistory

According to some authors the roots of ND may be traced back to Ancient Greece.

Corcoran (1972) proposed an interpretation of Aristotles syllogistics in terms of inference rules

and proofs from assumptions. One can also look for the genesis of ND system in Stoic logic,

where many researchers (for example, Mates 1953) identify a practical application of

the Deduction Theorem(DT). But all these examples, even if we agree with the arguments of

historians of logic, are only examples of using some proof techniques. There is no evidence of

theoretical interest in their justification.

Origins

The first ND systems were developed independently by Gerhard Gentzen and Stanisaw

Jakowski and presented in papers published in 1934 (Gentzen 1934, Jakowski 1934). Both

approaches, although different in many respects, provided the realization of the same basic

idea: formally correct systematization of traditional means of proving theorems in mathematics,

science and ordinary discourse. It was a reaction to the artificiality of formalization of proofs in

axiomatic systems. Hilberts proof theory offered high standards of precise formulation of this

notion, but formal axiomatic proofs were really different than real proofs offered by

mathematicians. The process of actual deduction in axiomatic systems is usually complicated

and needs a lot of invention. Moreover, real proofs are usually lengthy, hard to decipher and far

from informal arguments provided by mathematicians. In informal proofs, techniques such

as conditional proof,indirect proof or proof by cases are commonly used; all are based on the

introduction of arbitrary, temporarily accepted assumptions. Hence the goals of Gentzen and

Jakowski were twofold: (1) theoretical and formally correct justification of traditional proof

methods, and (2) providing a system which supports actual proof search. Moreover, Gentzens

approach provided the programme for proof analysis which strongly influenced modern proof

theory and philosophical research on theories of meaning.

Proofs

Constructing truth trees is not the only method for determining whether arguments are

valid; another method is known as natural deduction. To prove an argument is valid using the

truth tree method, we list the premises and the negated conclusion. We then apply certain rules

to the sentences until we are left with only atomic statements. If there are atomic statements

that contradict each other on every branch, then we have shown that it is impossible for the

premises to be true and conclusion false

Proofs in a natural deduction system follow a different form. We list the premises, but not

the conclusion. We then apply natural deduction rules to the premises until we are able to write

the conclusion of the argument. The natural deduction rules are truth preserving, thus, if we are

able to construct the conclusion by applying them to premises, we know that the truth of the

conclusion is entailed by the truth of the premises, and so the argument is valid. If we cannot

derive the conclusion from the premises however, we cannot conclude anything; the argument

may indeed be invalid, but then again we may have simply failed to find a way to derive it.1 (In

this respect, truth trees are more powerful than natural deduction.)

Natural deduction has the advantage of representing a rational train of thought in that it

moves linearly from the premises to the conclusion. It resembles our normal reasoning more

closely than truth tables and truth trees do. For example, in evaluating your friends argument,

most likely you think about whether her conclusion follows from her argument, or whether she

has a gap in her reasoning. Chances are, though, that you dont try to find a contradiction

between her premises and the negation of her conclusion. Natural deduction mimics the former

kind of reasoning, and is thus called natural deduction

Natural deduction is used to try to prove that some reasoning is correct (``to check the

validity of a sequent'', says theory). Example:

I tell you: ``In summer it's warm, and now we're in summer, so now it's warm''. You start doing

calculations, and finally reply: ``OK, I can prove that the reasoning you just made is correct''.

That is the use of natural deduction.

But it's not always so easy: ``if you fail a subject, you must repeat it. And if you don't

study it, you fail it. Now suppose that you aren't repeating it. Then, or you study it, or you are

failing it, or both of them''. This reasoning is valid and can be proven with natural deduction.

Remark that you don't have to believe nor understand what you are told.

For example, I say that: ``Thyristors are tiny and funny; a pea is not tiny, so it isn't a

thyristor''. Even if you don't know what am I talking about, or think that it is stupid (which it really

is), you must be completely sure that the reasoning was correct.

So, given a supposition ``if all this happens, then all that also happens'', natural deduction

allows us to say ``yes, that's right''. In logical language: if you are given a sequent

can conclude at the end that it is

has as consequence

, you

).

It isn't suitable for proving invalidity of some supposition. I might say ``at daytime, it isn't night;

and now it's daytime, so now it's also night'' and you may pass some time trying the rules of

natural deduction, but obtaining nothing useful. After some time, you will intuitively discover that

the reasoning might not be valid, and it's then when another methods -not natural deductionshould be tried in order to prove invalidity. They are explained later.

So, natural deduction only serves for proving validity, but not invalidity.

Sources: http://www.iep.utm.edu/nat-ded/

https://www.cs.cmu.edu/~fp/courses/atp/handouts/ch2-natded.pdf

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