Kurt Friedrich Gödel
April 28, 1906
|Died||January 14, 1978 71) (aged|
Princeton, New Jersey, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of Vienna|
|Known for|| Gödel's incompleteness theorems |
Gödel's completeness theorem
Gödel's constructible universe
Gödel metric (closed timelike curve)
Gödel's β function
Gödel's speed-up theorem
Gödel's ontological proof
Von Neumann–Bernays–Gödel set theory
The consistency of the continuum hypothesis with ZFC
Axiom of constructibility
|Fields||Mathematics, mathematical logic, analytic philosophy, physics|
|Institutions||Institute for Advanced Study|
|Thesis||Über die Vollständigkeit des Logikkalküls (On the Completeness of the Calculus of Logic) (1929)|
|Doctoral advisor||Hans Hahn|
Kurt Friedrich Gödel ( // ; German: [ˈkʊɐ̯t ˈɡøːdl̩] (
Gödel published his two incompleteness theorems in 1931 when he was 25 years old, one year after finishing his doctorate at the University of Vienna. The first incompleteness theorem states that for any self-consistent recursive axiomatic system powerful enough to describe the arithmetic of the natural numbers (for example Peano arithmetic), there are true propositions about the natural numbers that cannot be proved from the axioms. To prove this theorem, Gödel developed a technique now known as Gödel numbering, which codes formal expressions as natural numbers.
He also showed that neither the axiom of choice nor the continuum hypothesis can be disproved from the accepted axioms of set theory, assuming these axioms are consistent. The former result opened the door for mathematicians to assume the axiom of choice in their proofs. He also made important contributions to proof theory by clarifying the connections between classical logic, intuitionistic logic, and modal logic.
Gödel was born April 28, 1906, in Brünn, Austria-Hungary (now Brno, Czech Republic) into the German family of Rudolf Gödel (1874–1929), the manager of a textile factory, and Marianne Gödel (née Handschuh, 1879–1966).Throughout his life, Gödel would remain close to his mother; their correspondence was frequent and wide-ranging. At the time of his birth the city had a German-speaking majority which included his parents. His father was Catholic and his mother was Protestant and the children were raised Protestant. The ancestors of Kurt Gödel were often active in Brünn's cultural life. For example, his grandfather Joseph Gödel was a famous singer of that time and for some years a member of the Brünner Männergesangverein (Men's Choral Union of Brünn).
Gödel automatically became a Czechoslovak citizen at age 12 when the Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed, following its defeat in the World War I. (According to his classmate Klepetař, like many residents of the predominantly German Sudetenländer , "Gödel considered himself always Austrian and an exile in Czechoslovakia".) In February 1929 he was granted release from his Czechoslovakian citizenship and then, in April, granted Austrian citizenship. When Germany annexed Austria in 1938, Gödel automatically became a German citizen at age 32. After World War II (1948), at the age of 42, he became an American citizen.
In his family, young Kurt was known as Herr Warum ("Mr. Why") because of his insatiable curiosity. According to his brother Rudolf, at the age of six or seven Kurt suffered from rheumatic fever; he completely recovered, but for the rest of his life he remained convinced that his heart had suffered permanent damage. Beginning at age four, Gödel suffered from "frequent episodes of poor health", which would continue for his entire life.
Gödel attended the Evangelische Volksschule, a Lutheran school in Brünn from 1912 to 1916, and was enrolled in the Deutsches Staats-Realgymnasium from 1916 to 1924, excelling with honors in all his subjects, particularly in mathematics, languages and religion. Although Kurt had first excelled in languages, he later became more interested in history and mathematics. His interest in mathematics increased when in 1920 his older brother Rudolf (born 1902) left for Vienna to go to medical school at the University of Vienna. During his teens, Kurt studied Gabelsberger shorthand, Goethe's Theory of Colours and criticisms of Isaac Newton, and the writings of Immanuel Kant.
At the age of 18, Gödel joined his brother in Vienna and entered the University of Vienna. By that time, he had already mastered university-level mathematics.Although initially intending to study theoretical physics, he also attended courses on mathematics and philosophy. During this time, he adopted ideas of mathematical realism. He read Kant's Metaphysische Anfangsgründe der Naturwissenschaft , and participated in the Vienna Circle with Moritz Schlick, Hans Hahn, and Rudolf Carnap. Gödel then studied number theory, but when he took part in a seminar run by Moritz Schlick which studied Bertrand Russell's book Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy, he became interested in mathematical logic. According to Gödel, mathematical logic was "a science prior to all others, which contains the ideas and principles underlying all sciences."
Attending a lecture by David Hilbert in Bologna on completeness and consistency of mathematical systems may have set Gödel's life course. In 1928, Hilbert and Wilhelm Ackermann published Grundzüge der theoretischen Logik ( Principles of Mathematical Logic ), an introduction to first-order logic in which the problem of completeness was posed: Are the axioms of a formal system sufficient to derive every statement that is true in all models of the system?
This problem became the topic that Gödel chose for his doctoral work. In 1929, at the age of 23, he completed his doctoral dissertation under Hans Hahn's supervision. In it, he established his eponymous completeness theorem regarding the first-order predicate calculus. He was awarded his doctorate in 1930, and his thesis (accompanied by some additional work) was published by the Vienna Academy of Science.
Kurt Gödel's achievement in modern logic is singular and monumental—indeed it is more than a monument, it is a landmark which will remain visible far in space and time. ... The subject of logic has certainly completely changed its nature and possibilities with Gödel's achievement.
In 1930 Gödel attended the Second Conference on the Epistemology of the Exact Sciences, held in Königsberg, 5–7 September. Here he delivered his incompleteness theorems.
Gödel published his incompleteness theorems in Über formal unentscheidbare Sätze der Principia Mathematica und verwandter Systeme (called in English "On Formally Undecidable Propositions of Principia Mathematica and Related Systems"). In that article, he proved for any computable axiomatic system that is powerful enough to describe the arithmetic of the natural numbers (e.g., the Peano axioms or Zermelo–Fraenkel set theory with the axiom of choice), that:
These theorems ended a half-century of attempts, beginning with the work of Frege and culminating in Principia Mathematica and Hilbert's formalism, to find a set of axioms sufficient for all mathematics.
In hindsight, the basic idea at the heart of the incompleteness theorem is rather simple. Gödel essentially constructed a formula that claims that it is unprovable in a given formal system. If it were provable, it would be false. Thus there will always be at least one true but unprovable statement. That is, for any computably enumerable set of axioms for arithmetic (that is, a set that can in principle be printed out by an idealized computer with unlimited resources), there is a formula that is true of arithmetic, but which is not provable in that system. To make this precise, however, Gödel needed to produce a method to encode (as natural numbers) statements, proofs, and the concept of provability; he did this using a process known as Gödel numbering.
In his two-page paper Zum intuitionistischen Aussagenkalkül (1932) Gödel refuted the finite-valuedness of intuitionistic logic. In the proof, he implicitly used what has later become known as Gödel–Dummett intermediate logic (or Gödel fuzzy logic).
Gödel earned his habilitation at Vienna in 1932, and in 1933 he became a Privatdozent (unpaid lecturer) there. In 1933 Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany, and over the following years the Nazis rose in influence in Austria, and among Vienna's mathematicians. In June 1936, Moritz Schlick, whose seminar had aroused Gödel's interest in logic, was assassinated by one of his former students, Johann Nelböck. This triggered "a severe nervous crisis" in Gödel.He developed paranoid symptoms, including a fear of being poisoned, and spent several months in a sanitarium for nervous diseases.
In 1933, Gödel first traveled to the U.S., where he met Albert Einstein, who became a good friend.He delivered an address to the annual meeting of the American Mathematical Society. During this year, Gödel also developed the ideas of computability and recursive functions to the point where he was able to present a lecture on general recursive functions and the concept of truth. This work was developed in number theory, using Gödel numbering.
In 1934, Gödel gave a series of lectures at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton, New Jersey, entitled On undecidable propositions of formal mathematical systems. Stephen Kleene, who had just completed his PhD at Princeton, took notes of these lectures that have been subsequently published.
Gödel visited the IAS again in the autumn of 1935. The travelling and the hard work had exhausted him and the next year he took a break to recover from a depressive episode. He returned to teaching in 1937. During this time, he worked on the proof of consistency of the axiom of choice and of the continuum hypothesis; he went on to show that these hypotheses cannot be disproved from the common system of axioms of set theory.
He married Adele Nimbursky(née Porkert, 1899–1981), whom he had known for over 10 years, on September 20, 1938. Gödel's parents had opposed their relationship because she was a divorced dancer, six years older than he was.
Subsequently, he left for another visit to the United States, spending the autumn of 1938 at the IAS and publishing Consistency of the axiom of choice and of the generalized continuum-hypothesis with the axioms of set theory,a classic of modern mathematics. In that work he introduced the constructible universe, a model of set theory in which the only sets that exist are those that can be constructed from simpler sets. Gödel showed that both the axiom of choice (AC) and the generalized continuum hypothesis (GCH) are true in the constructible universe, and therefore must be consistent with the Zermelo–Fraenkel axioms for set theory (ZF). This result has had considerable consequences for working mathematicians, as it means they can assume the axiom of choice when proving the Hahn–Banach theorem. Paul Cohen later constructed a model of ZF in which AC and GCH are false; together these proofs mean that AC and GCH are independent of the ZF axioms for set theory.
Gödel spent the spring of 1939 at the University of Notre Dame.
After the Anschluss on 12 March 1938, Austria had become a part of Nazi Germany. Germany abolished the title Privatdozent , so Gödel had to apply for a different position under the new order. His former association with Jewish members of the Vienna Circle, especially with Hahn, weighed against him. The University of Vienna turned his application down.
His predicament intensified when the German army found him fit for conscription. World War II started in September 1939. Before the year was up, Gödel and his wife left Vienna for Princeton. To avoid the difficulty of an Atlantic crossing, the Gödels took the Trans-Siberian Railway to the Pacific, sailed from Japan to San Francisco (which they reached on March 4, 1940), then crossed the US by train to Princeton. There Gödel accepted a position at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), which he had previously visited during 1933–34.
Albert Einstein was also living at Princeton during this time. Gödel and Einstein developed a strong friendship, and were known to take long walks together to and from the Institute for Advanced Study. The nature of their conversations was a mystery to the other Institute members. Economist Oskar Morgenstern recounts that toward the end of his life Einstein confided that his "own work no longer meant much, that he came to the Institute merely ... to have the privilege of walking home with Gödel".
Gödel and his wife, Adele, spent the summer of 1942 in Blue Hill, Maine, at the Blue Hill Inn at the top of the bay. Gödel was not merely vacationing but had a very productive summer of work. Using Heft 15 [volume 15] of Gödel's still-unpublished Arbeitshefte [working notebooks], John W. Dawson Jr. conjectures that Gödel discovered a proof for the independence of the axiom of choice from finite type theory, a weakened form of set theory, while in Blue Hill in 1942. Gödel's close friend Hao Wang supports this conjecture, noting that Gödel's Blue Hill notebooks contain his most extensive treatment of the problem.
On December 5, 1947, Einstein and Morgenstern accompanied Gödel to his U.S. citizenship exam, where they acted as witnesses. Gödel had confided in them that he had discovered an inconsistency in the U.S. Constitution that could allow the U.S. to become a dictatorship. Einstein and Morgenstern were concerned that their friend's unpredictable behavior might jeopardize his application. The judge turned out to be Phillip Forman, who knew Einstein and had administered the oath at Einstein's own citizenship hearing. Everything went smoothly until Forman happened to ask Gödel if he thought a dictatorship like the Nazi regime could happen in the U.S. Gödel then started to explain his discovery to Forman. Forman understood what was going on, cut Gödel off, and moved the hearing on to other questions and a routine conclusion.
Gödel became a permanent member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton in 1946. Around this time he stopped publishing, though he continued to work. He became a full professor at the Institute in 1953 and an emeritus professor in 1976.
During his many years at the Institute, Gödel's interests turned to philosophy and physics. In 1949, he demonstrated the existence of solutions involving closed timelike curves, to Einstein's field equations in general relativity.He is said to have given this elaboration to Einstein as a present for his 70th birthday. His "rotating universes" would allow time travel to the past and caused Einstein to have doubts about his own theory. His solutions are known as the Gödel metric (an exact solution of the Einstein field equation).
He studied and admired the works of Gottfried Leibniz, but came to believe that a hostile conspiracy had caused some of Leibniz's works to be suppressed.To a lesser extent he studied Immanuel Kant and Edmund Husserl. In the early 1970s, Gödel circulated among his friends an elaboration of Leibniz's version of Anselm of Canterbury's ontological proof of God's existence. This is now known as Gödel's ontological proof.
Gödel was awarded (with Julian Schwinger) the first Albert Einstein Award in 1951, and was also awarded the National Medal of Science, in 1974.Gödel was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (ForMemRS) in 1968. He was a Plenary Speaker of the ICM in 1950 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Gödel Prize, an annual prize for outstanding papers in the area of theoretical computer science, is named after him.
Later in his life, Gödel suffered periods of mental instability and illness. Following the assassination of his close friend Moritz Schlick, 29 kilograms (65 lb) when he died. His death certificate reported that he died of "malnutrition and inanition caused by personality disturbance" in Princeton Hospital on January 14, 1978. He was buried in Princeton Cemetery. Adele's death followed in 1981.Gödel had an obsessive fear of being poisoned; he would eat only food that his wife, Adele, prepared for him. Late in 1977, she was hospitalized for six months and could subsequently no longer prepare her husband's food. In her absence, he refused to eat, eventually starving to death. He weighed
Gödel was a convinced theist, in the Christian tradition.He held the notion that God was personal.
He believed firmly in an afterlife, stating: "Of course this supposes that there are many relationships which today's science and received wisdom haven't any inkling of. But I am convinced of this [the afterlife], independently of any theology." It is "possible today to perceive, by pure reasoning" that it "is entirely consistent with known facts." "If the world is rationally constructed and has meaning, then there must be such a thing [as an afterlife]."
In an unmailed answer to a questionnaire, Gödel described his religion as "baptized Lutheran (but not member of any religious congregation). My belief is theistic , not pantheistic, following Leibniz rather than Spinoza."Describing religion(s) in general, Gödel said: "Religions are, for the most part, bad—but religion is not". According to his wife Adele, "Gödel, although he did not go to church, was religious and read the Bible in bed every Sunday morning", while of Islam, he said, "I like Islam: it is a consistent [or consequential] idea of religion and open-minded."
The Kurt Gödel Society, founded in 1987, was named in his honor. It is an international organization for the promotion of research in the areas of logic, philosophy, and the history of mathematics. The University of Vienna hosts the Kurt Gödel Research Center for Mathematical Logic. The Association for Symbolic Logic has invited an annual Kurt Gödel lecturer each year since 1990. Gödel's Philosophical Notebooks are edited at the Kurt Gödel Research Centre which is situated at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Germany.
Five volumes of Gödel's collected works have been published. The first two include Gödel's publications; the third includes unpublished manuscripts from Gödel's Nachlass, and the final two include correspondence.
A biography of Gödel was published by John Dawson in 2005: Logical Dilemmas: The Life and Work of Kurt Gödel (A. K. Peters, Wellesley, MA, ISBN 1-56881-256-6). Gödel was also one of four mathematicians examined in the 2008 BBC documentary entitled Dangerous Knowledge by David Malone.
Douglas Hofstadter wrote a popular book in 1979 called Gödel, Escher, Bach to celebrate the work and ideas of Gödel, along with those of artist M. C. Escher and composer Johann Sebastian Bach. The book partly explores the ramifications of the fact that Gödel's incompleteness theorem can be applied to any Turing-complete computational system, which may include the human brain.
Gödel is played by Lou Jacobi in the 1994 film I.Q.
In English translation:
the Mathematics department at the University of Notre Dame was host ... for a single semester in the spring of 1939 [to] Kurt Gödel
Gödel had a happy childhood, and was called "Mr. Why" by his family, due to his numerous questions. He was baptized as a Lutheran, and re-mained a theist (a believer in a personal God) throughout his life.
Automated theorem proving is a subfield of automated reasoning and mathematical logic dealing with proving mathematical theorems by computer programs. Automated reasoning over mathematical proof was a major impetus for the development of computer science.
In mathematics and computer science, the Entscheidungsproblem is a challenge posed by David Hilbert and Wilhelm Ackermann in 1928. The problem asks for an algorithm that considers, as input, a statement and answers "Yes" or "No" according to whether the statement is universally valid, i.e., valid in every structure satisfying the axioms.
Gödel's ontological proof is a formal argument by the mathematician Kurt Gödel (1906–1978) for the existence of God. The argument is in a line of development that goes back to Anselm of Canterbury (1033–1109). St. Anselm's ontological argument, in its most succinct form, is as follows: "God, by definition, is that for which no greater can be conceived. God exists in the understanding. If God exists in the understanding, we could imagine Him to be greater by existing in reality. Therefore, God must exist." A more elaborate version was given by Gottfried Leibniz (1646–1716); this is the version that Gödel studied and attempted to clarify with his ontological argument.
In the philosophy of mathematics, intuitionism, or neointuitionism, is an approach where mathematics is considered to be purely the result of the constructive mental activity of humans rather than the discovery of fundamental principles claimed to exist in an objective reality. That is, logic and mathematics are not considered analytic activities wherein deep properties of objective reality are revealed and applied, but are instead considered the application of internally consistent methods used to realize more complex mental constructs, regardless of their possible independent existence in an objective reality.
Mathematical logic is a subfield of mathematics exploring the applications of formal logic to mathematics. It bears close connections to metamathematics, the foundations of mathematics, and theoretical computer science. The unifying themes in mathematical logic include the study of the expressive power of formal systems and the deductive power of formal proof systems.
The Principia Mathematica is a three-volume work on the foundations of mathematics written by the philosophers Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell and published in 1910, 1912, and 1913. In 1925–27, it appeared in a second edition with an important Introduction to the Second Edition, an Appendix A that replaced ✸9 and all-new Appendix B and Appendix C. PM is not to be confused with Russell's 1903 The Principles of Mathematics. PM was originally conceived as a sequel volume to Russell's 1903 Principles, but as PM states, this became an unworkable suggestion for practical and philosophical reasons: "The present work was originally intended by us to be comprised in a second volume of Principles of Mathematics... But as we advanced, it became increasingly evident that the subject is a very much larger one than we had supposed; moreover on many fundamental questions which had been left obscure and doubtful in the former work, we have now arrived at what we believe to be satisfactory solutions."
Gödel's incompleteness theorems are two theorems of mathematical logic that demonstrate the inherent limitations of every formal axiomatic system capable of modelling basic arithmetic. These results, published by Kurt Gödel in 1931, are important both in mathematical logic and in the philosophy of mathematics. The theorems are widely, but not universally, interpreted as showing that Hilbert's program to find a complete and consistent set of axioms for all mathematics is impossible.
In mathematics, Hilbert's second problem was posed by David Hilbert in 1900 as one of his 23 problems. It asks for a proof that the arithmetic is consistent – free of any internal contradictions. Hilbert stated that the axioms he considered for arithmetic were the ones given in Hilbert (1900), which include a second order completeness axiom.
Jacques Herbrand was a French mathematician. Although he died at age 23, he was already considered one of "the greatest mathematicians of the younger generation" by his professors Helmut Hasse, and Richard Courant.
Proof theory is a major branch of mathematical logic that represents proofs as formal mathematical objects, facilitating their analysis by mathematical techniques. Proofs are typically presented as inductively-defined data structures such as plain lists, boxed lists, or trees, which are constructed according to the axioms and rules of inference of the logical system. As such, proof theory is syntactic in nature, in contrast to model theory, which is semantic in nature.
Metamathematics is the study of mathematics itself using mathematical methods. This study produces metatheories, which are mathematical theories about other mathematical theories. Emphasis on metamathematics owes itself to David Hilbert's attempt to secure the foundations of mathematics in the early part of the 20th century. Metamathematics provides "a rigorous mathematical technique for investigating a great variety of foundation problems for mathematics and logic". An important feature of metamathematics is its emphasis on differentiating between reasoning from inside a system and from outside a system. An informal illustration of this is categorizing the proposition "2+2=4" as belonging to mathematics while categorizing the proposition "'2+2=4' is valid" as belonging to metamathematics.
George Stephen Boolos was an American philosopher and a mathematical logician who taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In set theory and related branches of mathematics, the von Neumann universe, or von Neumann hierarchy of sets, denoted by V, is the class of hereditary well-founded sets. This collection, which is formalized by Zermelo–Fraenkel set theory (ZFC), is often used to provide an interpretation or motivation of the axioms of ZFC.
Thoralf Albert Skolem was a Norwegian mathematician who worked in mathematical logic and set theory.
"Über formal unentscheidbare Sätze der Principia Mathematica und verwandter Systeme I" is a paper in mathematical logic by Kurt Gödel. Dated November 17, 1930, it was originally published in German in the 1931 volume of Monatshefte für Mathematik. Several English translations have appeared in print, and the paper has been included in two collections of classic mathematical logic papers. The paper contains Gödel's incompleteness theorems, now fundamental results in logic that have many implications for consistency proofs in mathematics. The paper is also known for introducing new techniques that Gödel invented to prove the incompleteness theorems.
In mathematical logic, an ω-consistenttheory is a theory that is not only (syntactically) consistent, but also avoids proving certain infinite combinations of sentences that are intuitively contradictory. The name is due to Kurt Gödel, who introduced the concept in the course of proving the incompleteness theorem.
In a foundational controversy in twentieth-century mathematics, L. E. J. Brouwer, a proponent of the constructivist school of intuitionism, opposed David Hilbert, a proponent of formalism. The debate concerned fundamental questions about the consistency of axioms and the role of semantics and syntax in mathematics. Much of the controversy took place while both were involved with the prestigious Mathematische Annalen journal, with Hilbert as editor-in-chief and Brouwer as a member of its editorial board.
In mathematical logic, Gödel's β function is a function used to permit quantification over finite sequences of natural numbers in formal theories of arithmetic. The β function is used, in particular, in showing that the class of arithmetically definable functions is closed under primitive recursion, and therefore includes all primitive recursive functions.
The type theory was initially created to avoid paradoxes in a variety of formal logics and rewrite systems. Later, type theory referred to a class of formal systems, some of which can serve as alternatives to naive set theory as a foundation for all mathematics.
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