This subsection contains a few results related to the weak deduction theorem in set theory. For the weak deduction theorem in propositional calculus, see the section beginning with elimh. For more information on the weak deduction theorem, see the Weak Deduction Theorem page mmdeduction.html.

In a Hilbert system of logic (which consists of a set of axioms, modus ponens, and the generalization rule), converting a deduction to a proof using the Deduction Theorem (taught in introductory logic books) involves an exponential increase of the number of steps as hypotheses are successively eliminated. Here is a trick that is not as general as the Deduction Theorem but requires only a linear increase in the number of steps.

The general problem: We want to convert a deduction P |- Q into a proof of the theorem |- P -> Q i.e., we want to eliminate the hypothesis P. Normally this is done using the Deduction (meta)Theorem, which looks at the microscopic steps of the deduction and usually doubles or triples the number of these microscopic steps for each hypothesis that is eliminated. We will look at a special case of this problem, without appealing to the Deduction Theorem.

We assume ZF with class notation. A and B are arbitrary (possibly proper) classes. P, Q, R, S and T are wffs.

We define the conditional operator, if(P, A, B), as follows: if(P, A, B) =def= { x | (x \in A & P) v (x \in B & -. P) } (where x does not occur in A, B, or P).

Lemma 1. A = if(P, A, B) -> (P <-> R), B = if(P, A, B) -> (S <-> R), S |- R Proof: Logic and Axiom of Extensionality.

Lemma 2. A = if(P, A, B) -> (Q <-> T), T |- P -> Q Proof: Logic and Axiom of Extensionality.

Here is a simple example that illustrates how it works. Suppose we have a deduction Ord A |- Tr A which means, "Assume A is an ordinal class. Then A is a transitive class." Note that A is a class variable that may be substituted with any class expression, so this is really a deduction scheme.

We want to convert this to a proof of the theorem (scheme) |- Ord A -> Tr A.

The catch is that we must be able to prove "Ord A" for at least one object A (and this is what makes it weaker than the ordinary Deduction Theorem). However, it is easy to prove |- Ord 0 (the empty set is ordinal). (For a typical textbook "theorem", i.e., deduction, there is usually at least one object satisfying each hypothesis, otherwise the theorem would not be very useful. We can always go back to the standard Deduction Theorem for those hypotheses where this is not the case.) Continuing with the example:

Equality axioms (and Extensionality) yield |- A = if(Ord A, A, 0) -> (Ord A <-> Ord if(Ord A, A, 0)) (1) |- 0 = if(Ord A, A, 0) -> (Ord 0 <-> Ord if(Ord A, A, 0)) (2) From (1), (2) and |- Ord 0, Lemma 1 yields |- Ord if(Ord A, A, 0) (3) From (3) and substituting if(Ord A, A, 0) for A in the original deduction, |- Tr if(Ord A, A, 0) (4) Equality axioms (and Extensionality) yield |- A = if(Ord A, A, 0) -> (Tr A <-> Tr if(Ord A, A, 0)) (5) From (4) and (5), Lemma 2 yields |- Ord A -> Tr A (Q.E.D.)