A **Laver table** is an infinite family of magmas that may give rise to a large number function.^{[1]} They were first defined by Richard Laver in 1992. For \(n \geq 0\), a size-*n* Laver table is a binary operator \(\star\) over \(\mathbb{Z}_{2^n}\), with the following properties:

\[a \star 1 = a + 1 \pmod{2^n}\] \[a \star (b \star c) = (a \star b) \star (a \star c)\]

The period of the function \(a \mapsto 1 \star a\) is a function of \(n\), which we will denote as \(p(n)\). The first few values of \(p(n)\) are \(1, 1, 2, 4, 4, 8, 8, 8, 8, 16, 16, 16, 16, \ldots\) (OEIS A098820), a slow-growing function. \(p\) is provably divergent in the system ZFC + "there exists a rank-into-rank cardinal." Unfortunately, the latter axiom is so strong that the consistency of the system is seriously doubted. Since the divergence of \(p\) has not been proven otherwise, it remains an unsolved problem.

Let \(q(n)\) be minimal so that \(p(q(n)) \geq 2^n\), the "pseudoinverse" of \(p\). \(q\) is a fast-growing function that is total iff \(p\) is divergent. The first few values of \(q\) are \(0, 2, 3, 5, 9\). The existence of \(q(n)\) for \(n \geq 5\) has not even been confirmed, but under the assumption of the previously mentioned axiom, Randall Dougherty has shown that \(q(n + 1) > f_{\omega+1}(\lfloor \log_3 n \rfloor - 1)\) in a slightly modified version of the fast-growing hierarchy,^{[2]} and \(q(5) > f_9(f_8(f_8(254)))\).^{[3]} Dougherty has expressed pessimism about the complexity of proving better lower bounds, and no upper bounds are known as of yet.

## Explanation

For \(\lambda \in \text{Lim}\), let \(\mathcal{E}_\lambda\) be the set of elementary embeddings \(V_\lambda \mapsto V_\lambda\) (explained on the rank-into-rank cardinal page). For \(j,k \in \mathcal{E}_\lambda\), we define the operator \(j\cdot k\) (or \(jk\)) as follows:

\[j \cdot k = \bigcup_{\alpha < \lambda} j(k \cap V_\alpha)\]

That is, we "apply \(j\) to \(k\) approaching \(V_\lambda\)." This operator has \(j(kl) = (jk)(jl)\), a property known as *left-distributivity*. [incomplete, please expand]

## Examples

A size-2 Laver table is shown below:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | |
---|---|---|---|---|

1 | 2 | 4 | 2 | 4 |

2 | 3 | 4 | 3 | 4 |

3 | 4 | 4 | 4 | 4 |

4 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |

The entries at the first row repeat with a period of 2, and therefore \(p(2) = 2\).

A size-3 Laver table is shown below:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | |
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

1 | 2 | 4 | 6 | 8 | 2 | 4 | 6 | 8 |

2 | 3 | 4 | 7 | 8 | 3 | 4 | 7 | 8 |

3 | 4 | 8 | 4 | 8 | 4 | 8 | 4 | 8 |

4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 |

5 | 6 | 8 | 6 | 8 | 6 | 8 | 6 | 8 |

6 | 7 | 8 | 7 | 8 | 7 | 8 | 7 | 8 |

7 | 8 | 8 | 8 | 8 | 8 | 8 | 8 | 8 |

8 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 |

The entries at the first row repeat with a period of 4, and therefore \(p(3) = 4\).

## Sources

- ↑ Laver, Richard. On the Algebra of Elementary Embeddings of a Rank into Inself. Retrieved 2014-08-23.
- ↑ With \(f_{\alpha + 1}(n) = f_\alpha^{n + 1}(1)\)
- ↑ Dougherty, Randall. Critical points in an algebra of elementary embeddings. Retrieved 2014-08-23.

## See also

**By Harvey Friedman:** Mythical tree problem · Friedman's vector reduction problem · Friedman's finite ordered tree problem · block subsequence theorem n(4) · Friedman's circle theorem · TREE sequence TREE(3) · subcubic graph number SCG(13) · transcendental integer · finite promise games · Friedman's finite trees · Greedy clique sequence**Hydras:** Kirby-Paris · Beklemishev's worms · Buchholz**Miscellaneous:** Factorial · Folkman's number · Exploding Tree Function · Graham's number · fusible number · Goodstein function · **Laver table**