Why is compactness in logic called compactness?

In logic, a semantics is said to be compact iff if every finite subset of a set of sentences has a model, then so to does the entire set.

Most logic texts either don’t explain the terminology, or allude to the topological property of compactness. I see an analogy as, given a topological space X and a subset of it S, S is compact iff for every open cover of S, there is a finite subcover of S. But, it doesn’t seem strong enough to justify the terminology.

Is there more to the choice of the terminology in logic than this analogy?


The Compactness Theorem is equivalent to the compactness of the Stone space of the Lindenbaum–Tarski algebra of the first-order language $L$. (This is also the space of $0$-types over the empty theory.)

A point in the Stone space $S_L$ is a complete theory $T$ in the language $L$. That is, $T$ is a set of sentences of $L$ which is closed under logical deduction and contains exactly one of $\sigma$ or $\lnot\sigma$ for every sentence $\sigma$ of the language. The topology on the set of types has for basis the open sets $U(\sigma) = \{T:\sigma\in T\}$ for every sentence $\sigma$ of $L$. Note that these are all clopen sets since $U(\lnot\sigma)$ is complementary to $U(\sigma)$.

To see how the Compactness Theorem implies the compactness of $S_L$, suppose the basic open sets $U(\sigma_i)$, $i\in I$, form a cover of $S_L$. This means that every complete theory $T$ contains at least one of the sentences $\sigma_i$. I claim that this cover has a finite subcover. If not, then the set $\{\lnot\sigma_i:i\in I\}$ is finitely consistent. By the Compactness Theorem, the set consistent and hence (by Zorn’s Lemma) is contained in a maximally consistent set $T$. This theory $T$ is a point of the Stone space which is not contained in any $U(\sigma_i)$, which contradicts our hypothesis that the $U(\sigma_i)$, $i\in I$, form a cover of the space.

To see how the compactness of $S_L$ implies the Compactness Theorem, suppose that $\{\sigma_i:i\in I\}$ is an inconsistent set of sentences in $L$. Then $U(\lnot\sigma_i),i\in I$ forms a cover of $S_L$. This cover has a finite subcover, which corresponds to a finite inconsistent subset of $\{\sigma_i:i\in I\}$. Therefore, every inconsistent set has a finite inconsistent subset, which is the contrapositive of the Compactness Theorem.

Source : Link , Question Author : vanden , Answer Author : mrtaurho

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