Inner model theory and core model theory might seem like their own niche in set theory, where you have to invest hundreds of hours just to get a glimpse of what’s going on. But behind all the complicated theory there are theorems in inner model theory which can be applied in many contexts with minimal background knowledge of the intricate technicalities appearing in their proofs. In this and the next couple of blog posts I’ll introduce one such theorem, explain how to use it, do a few mainstream set theory applications of it, and also provide a proof of it. Everything aside from the proof should hopefully be accessible to set theorists who aren’t inner model theorists.

# Antichains and closure properties

There are many different properties that forcings can have, whose consequences are usually well-known. As an example, intuitively, closure properties of forcings yield preservation of cardinals below, and antichain properties yield preservation of cardinals above. But these properties seem mostly to be studied individually, so Stamatis Dimopoulos and I set out to find these folklore results about which combinations of closure properties and antichain properties can consistently hold.

# A categorical approach to forcing?

When doing set theory we tend to take pride in the fact that it’s something unique, something that is doing things in a very different way from the rest of mathematics. Take things like transitive sets, forcing extensions, elementary embeddings as well as syntactic considerations in results like Shoenfield absoluteness. But there are times when we *might* be better off by borrowing terminology, and maybe even results, from other fields. In this post I will just give a *potential* example of such a thing: namely, considering the structural side of forcing from a categorical point of view.

# A universe of hierarchies

When doing set theory (or mathematics in general) we’re working inside some universe, usually denoted by V. Since we can’t work with *everything there is* (in a first-order way), we resort to working with initial segments of V. The confusion then arises, since what do we mean by an initial segment? Some prefer to work with the “rank-hierarchy” and others prefer to work with the “hereditary cardinality hierarchy” . It gets even worse if we’re working in Gödel’s constructible universe , since then we also got Gödel’s hierarchy and Jensen’s hierarchy. How do we picture these hierarchies? What are their relation to each other?

# Distribution

The notion of *distributivity* comes from the Latin word *distribut-*, meaning “divided up”, and has since evolved into how mathematics deals with things that are divided up. This starts back in school when we learn that . This property can be generalised in the language of Boolean algebras, still maintaining the intent of dealing with *divided stuff,* leading to the axiom of choice being a notion of distributivity as well!

# Mice and long games

When dealing with games in general, we can vary different parameters. We could vary (1) how big the payoff set is, (2) which objects we’re playing and (3) for how many rounds we’re playing. In a ZFC context, which is what I’ll be working with here as well, I’ve previously written about what limitations we’re facing. In particular, when we restrict ourselves to definable games then we can’t have determinacy of games on integers of length . Restricting ourselves to definable games of countable length on the integers, what large cardinal strength do we obtain?

# A travel guide to the large cardinals

Looking at a map of the large cardinal hierarchy for the first time can be a dizzying experience. What are the differences between them, and which ones are similar? Some of them are defined using partition properties and some of them are defined using elementary embeddings, and others have a whole myriad of equivalent characterisations! What’s the intuition about the different sections of the hierarchy, and what type of set theorists are working in each section?