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Natural Deduction

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.

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.
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.

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

(valid). Then we write

has as consequence

, you

What it is not for?

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.