Kurt Gödel

From The Academic American Encyclopædia

Godel, Kurt


Kurt Godel, b. Apr. 28, 1906, d. Jan. 14, 1978, was a Czech-born American mathematician and logician. He is best known for his proof of Godel's undecidability theorems, which state that any rigidly logical mathematical system contains questions that cannot be proved or disproved on the basis of the AXIOMS within the system. These results were an epochal landmark in 20th- century mathematics, indicating that mathematics is not a finished object, as had been believed. His proof first appeared in a German technical journal in 1931. This paper ended nearly a century of attempts to establish axioms that would provide a rigorous basis for all mathematics. Godel became a member of the faculty of the University of Vienna in 1930, where he belonged to the school of logical positivism. In 1940 he emigrated to the United States; he was a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton, N.J., from 1953 to his death.

H. Howard Frisinger

Bibliography: Hofstadter, Douglas, Godel, Escher, Bach (1979); Shanker, S.G., ed., Godel's Theorem in Focus (1988).

Christopher Hogan (email: chogan@cs.cmu.edu finger: chogan@cs.cmu.edu)

Last updated Mon Oct 7 14:28:41 EDT 1996