# Conservative extension

(Redirected from Non-conservative extension)

In mathematical logic, a conservative extension is a supertheory of a theory which is often convenient for proving theorems, but proves no new theorems about the language of the original theory.

More formally stated, a theory ${\displaystyle T_{2}}$ is a (proof theoretic) conservative extension of a theory ${\displaystyle T_{1}}$ if the language of ${\displaystyle T_{2}}$ extends the language of ${\displaystyle T_{1}}$; that is, every theorem of ${\displaystyle T_{1}}$ is a theorem of ${\displaystyle T_{2}}$, and any theorem of ${\displaystyle T_{2}}$ in the language of ${\displaystyle T_{1}}$ is already a theorem of ${\displaystyle T_{1}}$.

More generally, if ${\displaystyle \Gamma }$ is a set of formulas in the common language of ${\displaystyle T_{1}}$ and ${\displaystyle T_{2}}$, then ${\displaystyle T_{2}}$ is ${\displaystyle \Gamma }$-conservative over ${\displaystyle T_{1}}$ if every formula from ${\displaystyle \Gamma }$ provable in ${\displaystyle T_{2}}$ is also provable in ${\displaystyle T_{1}}$.

Note that a conservative extension of a consistent theory is consistent. [If it were not, then by the principle of explosion ("everything follows from a contradiction"), every theorem in the original theory as well as its negation would belong to the new theory, which then would not be a conservative extension.] Hence, conservative extensions do not bear the risk of introducing new inconsistencies. This can also be seen as a methodology for writing and structuring large theories: start with a theory, ${\displaystyle T_{0}}$, that is known (or assumed) to be consistent, and successively build conservative extensions ${\displaystyle T_{1}}$, ${\displaystyle T_{2}}$, ... of it.

The theorem provers Isabelle and ACL2 adopt this methodology by providing a language for conservative extensions by definition.

Recently, conservative extensions have been used for defining a notion of module for ontologies: if an ontology is formalized as a logical theory, a subtheory is a module if the whole ontology is a conservative extension of the subtheory.

An extension which is not conservative may be called a proper extension.

## Model-theoretic conservative extension

With model-theoretic means, a stronger notion is obtained: an extension ${\displaystyle T_{2}}$ of a theory ${\displaystyle T_{1}}$ is model-theoretically conservative if every model of ${\displaystyle T_{1}}$ can be expanded to a model of ${\displaystyle T_{2}}$. It is straightforward to see that each model-theoretic conservative extension also is a (proof-theoretic) conservative extension in the above sense. The model theoretic notion has the advantage over the proof theoretic one that it does not depend so much on the language at hand; on the other hand, it is usually harder to establish model theoretic conservativity.