A nice theorem on monotonic predicate sequences

A predicate sequence Pi (i ≥ 0) such that —denoting universal quantification over all states by square brackets— (Ai : i ≥ 0 : [PiPi+1]) is called weakening; a predicate sequence Pi (i ≥ 0) such that (Ai : i ≥ 0 : [Pi+1Pi]) is called strengthening. A predicate sequence Pi (i ≥ 0) that is weakening or strengthening is called monotonic.

Theorem For any monotonic predicate sequence Pi (i ≥ 0) we have
[(Ai : i ≥ 0 : (Ej : ji : Pj)) = (Ei : i ≥ 0 : (Aj : ji : Pj))] .

Proof Let Pi (i ≥ 0) be a weakening predicate sequence; we then have for all natural i
(0)  [Pi = (Aj : ji : Pj)]
(1)  [(Ej : ji : Pj) = (Ej : j ≥ 0 : Pj)] .
For arbitrary Z we observe

[Z = (Ai : i ≥ 0 : (Ej : ji : Pj))]
= {(1)}
[Z = (Ai : i ≥ 0 : (Ej : j ≥ 0 : Pj))]
= {predicate calculus}
[Z = (Ej : j ≥ 0 : Pj)]
= {renaming the dummy}
[Z = (Ei : i ≥ 0 : Pi)]
= {(0)}
[Z = (Ei : i ≥ 0 : (Aj : j ≥ i : Pj))]

which proves the theorem for weakening Pi (i ≥ 0).

Let Pi (i ≥ 0) be a strengthening predicate sequence; then the sequence of predicates ¬Pi is weakening and we conclude from the above
[(Ai : i ≥ 0 : (Ej : ji : ¬Pj)) = (Ei : i ≥ 0 : (Aj : ji : ¬Pj))] .
Negating both sides and applying de Morgan yields
[(Ei : i ≥ 0 : (Aj : ji : Pj)) = (Ai : i ≥ 0 : (Ej : ji : Pj))] .
(End of Proof.)

As we see from the proof, the two equal expressions mentioned in the Theorem are for a weakening predicate sequence Pi (i ≥ 0) most simply expressed as (Ei : i ≥ 0 : Pi); for a strengthening predicate sequence Pi (i ≥ 0) they are most simply expressed as (Ai : i ≥ 0 : Pi). These are the forms in which these limits are best known.

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C.S. Scholten and I discovered this theorem while working on EWD816. We were slightly amazed that in its full generality the Theorem was new for us, the more so because monotonic predicate sequences occur so frequently and its proof is so simple. (The Theorem, though nice and in a way striking, is definitely not deep.) Hence this note.

Plataanstraat 5
5671 AL NUENEN
The Netherlands

3 April 1982
prof. dr. Edsger W.Dijkstra
Burroughs Research Fellow