Union of Equational Theories: An Algebraic Approach
We consider the well-known problem of deciding the union of decidable equational theories. We focus on monadic theories, i.e., theories over signatures with unary function symbols only. The equivalence of the category of monadic equational theories and the category of monoids is used. This equivalence facilitates a translation of the considered decidability problem into the word problem in the pushout of monoids which themselves have decidable word problems. Using monoids, existing results on the union of theories are then restated and proved in a succint way. The idea is then analyzed of first guaranteeing that the union is a “jointly conservative” extension and then using this property to show decidability of the union. It is shown that “joint conservativity” is equivalent to the corresponding monoid amalgam being embeddable; this allows one to apply results from amalgamation theory to this problem. Then we prove that using this property to show decidability is a more difficult matter: it turns out that even if this property and some additional conditions hold, the problem remains undecidable.
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