A System of Axioms for Minkowski Spacetime

Journal of Philosophical Logic:1-37 (2020)
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We present an elementary system of axioms for the geometry of Minkowski spacetime. It strikes a balance between a simple and streamlined set of axioms and the attempt to give a direct formalization in first-order logic of the standard account of Minkowski spacetime in [Maudlin 2012] and [Malament, unpublished]. It is intended for future use in the formalization of physical theories in Minkowski spacetime. The choice of primitives is in the spirit of [Tarski 1959]: a predicate of betwenness and a four place predicate to compare the square of the relativistic intervals. Minkowski spacetime is described as a four dimensional ‘vector space’ that can be decomposed everywhere into a spacelike hyperplane - which obeys the Euclidean axioms in [Tarski and Givant, 1999] - and an orthogonal timelike line. The length of other ‘vectors’ are calculated according to Pythagora’s theorem. We conclude with a Representation Theorem relating models of our system that satisfy second order continuity to the mathematical structure called ‘Minkowski spacetime’ in physics textbooks.

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Joshua Babic
University of Geneva


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