Kurt Goedel

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Kurt Gödel around 1925 as student in Vienna

Kurt Friedrich Gödel (April 28, 1906, Brno, Czech Republic[1] - January 14, 1978, Princeton, USA) was an Austrian and American mathematician, sometimes considered as the most important figure in mathematical logic in modern times.[2]

His most well-known work is his famous Incompleteness Theorem, described as "among the handful of landmark theorems in twentieth century mathematics". [3] It stunned the mathematical world by proving that in any sufficiently complicated formal system (such as mathematics), there are statements in that formal system which cannot be proved to be either true or false.

His other very important work (equally significant, but less well known) was his work in set theory, where he proved that Georg Cantor's puzzling Continuum Hypothesis was consistent with the Axiom of Choice, and that both were consistent with the axioms of Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory. This achievement was characterized as "a tour de force and arguably the greatest achievement of his mathematical life .. because .. virtually all of the technical machinery used in the proof had to be invented ab initio." [4]

He also did considerable and important work in physics (where he had significant findings in the field of relativity) and in philosophy.

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[edit] Notes

  1. At Gödel's birth, Brno (Brünn) was part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.
  2. S. Feferman, S. Kleene, G. Moore, R. Solovay, and J. van Heijenoort (eds.): Gödel, Kurt, Collected Works. I: Publications 1929–1936, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1986.
  3. Kurt Gödel at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Introduction
  4. Kurt Gödel at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Section 2.4.1
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