Mahlo cardinal

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A cardinal $\kappa$ is Mahlo if and only if it is inaccessible and the regular cardinals below $\kappa$ form a stationary subset of $\kappa$. Equivalently, $\kappa$ is Mahlo if it is regular and the inaccessible cardinals below $\kappa$ are stationary.

  • Every Mahlo cardinal $\kappa$ is inaccessible, and indeed hyper-inaccessible and hyper-hyper-inaccessible, up to degree $\kappa$, and a limit of such cardinals.
  • If $\kappa$ is Mahlo, then it is Mahlo in any inner model, since the concept of stationarity is similarly downward absolute.

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Weakly Mahlo

A cardinal $\kappa$ is weakly Mahlo if it is regular and the set of regular cardinals below $\kappa$ is stationary in $\kappa$. If $\kappa$ is a strong limit and hence also inaccessible, this is equivalent to $\kappa$ being Mahlo, since the strong limit cardinals form a closed unbounded subset in any inaccessible cardinal. In particular, under the GCH, a cardinal is weakly Mahlo if and only if it is Mahlo. But in general, the concepts can differ, since adding an enormous number of Cohen reals will preserve all weakly Mahlo cardinals, but can easily destroy strong limit cardinals. Thus, every Mahlo cardinal can be made weakly Mahlo but not Mahlo in a forcing extension in which the continuum is very large. Nevertheless, every weakly Mahlo cardinal is Mahlo in any inner model of the GCH.


A cardinal $\kappa$ is $1$-Mahlo if the set of Mahlo cardinals is stationary in $\kappa$. This is a strictly stronger notion than merely asserting that $\kappa$ is a Mahlo limit of Mahlo cardinals, since in fact every $1$-Mahlo cardinal is a limit of such Mahlo-limits-of-Mahlo cardinals. (So there is an entire hierarchy of limits-of-limits-of-Mahloness between the Mahlo cardinals and the $1$-Mahlo cardinals.) More generally, $\kappa$ is $\alpha$-Mahlo if it is Mahlo and for each $\beta\lt\alpha$ the class of $\beta$-Mahlo cardinals is stationary in $\kappa$. The cardinal $\kappa$ is hyper-Mahlo if it is $\kappa$-Mahlo. One may proceed to define the concepts of $\alpha$-hyper${}^\beta$-Mahlo by iterating this concept, iterating the stationary limit concept. All such levels are swamped by the weakly compact cardinals, which exhibit all the desired degrees of hyper-Mahloness.