The two-variable fragment $\mathrm{FO}^2$ consist of those sentences of first-order logic $\mathrm{FO}$ in which precisely two variables occur (e.g. $\exists x \exists y \exists z R(x,y,z)$ is not a sentence of $\mathrm{FO}^2$). In [1] it is proved that the validity problem of $\mathrm{FO}^2$ is coNEXPTIME-complete. What about intuitionistic $\mathrm{FO}^2$? Does it have the same complexity or is it harder? For comparison, the validity problem of propositional logic is coNP-complete while the validity problem of propositional intuitionistic logic is PSPACE-complete, see [2].

This question could of course be asked in more general terms by replacing $\mathrm{FO}^2$ with any reasonable subset of $\mathrm{FO}$. If there is a more general connection between the classical validity problem and the intuitionistic validity problem, then I would be happy to hear about it.

[1] Grädel, E., Kolaitis, P., & Vardi, M. (1997). On the Decision Problem for Two-Variable First-Order Logic. Bulletin of Symbolic Logic, 3(1), 53-69.

[2] Statman, R. (1979). Intuitionistic propositional logic is polynomial-space complete. Theoretical Computer Science, 9(1), 67-72.

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    $\begingroup$ Any reason to think this is decidable even? Note that fragments of IL are a bit harder to characterize: there is no such thing as a prenex-normal form! $\endgroup$
    – cody
    Dec 28, 2021 at 22:58
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    $\begingroup$ Note that intuitionistic modal logics are decidable. There are tons of papers available about them, but let me point out a paper by Alechina and Shkatov sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1570868305000431, where they translated some intuitionistic modal logics into the two-variable non-intuitionistic guarded fragment. This is, however, not applicable to FO2. Yet another related paper on modal logics is the PHD thesis of Tim Lyon, see the following link for a proof-theoretic treatment of MLs: arxiv.org/abs/2107.14487 $\endgroup$ Dec 29, 2021 at 9:24

1 Answer 1


The two-variable fragment of intuitionistic first-order logic is undecidable, as proved in

Roman Kontchakov, Agi Kurucz, and Michael Zakharyaschev: Undecidability of First-Order Intuitionistic and Modal Logics with Two Variables, Bulletin of Symbolic Logic 11 (2005), no. 3, pp. 428–438. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1578742.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the reference; the proof is surprisingly simple. Furthermore, it seems to me that one can use essentially the same argument to prove that the validity problem of intuitionistic fluted logic $\mathrm{FL}$ is undecidable. $\endgroup$ Dec 29, 2021 at 14:25

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