April 28, 2006

Godel - 100th birthday today

Centenary today - Kurt Gödel, arguably the leading mathematician/philosophers/logician of the 20th century was born April 28, 1906, in Brünn (now Brno), Moravia, Austria-Hungary (now the Czech Republic).

From my Mathematics thread:
Kurt Gödel (1906-1978) was a mathematician and philosopher of mathematics, most famous for his incompleteness theorems (read an explanation of the theorems here) and is considered to be one of the three greatest logicians of all time along with Aristotle and Gottlob Frege. Godel's theorems have been used to extrapolate a great many "truths" about the world. Torkel Franzen sets the record straight in his new book Godel's Theorem: An Incomplete Guide to Its Use and Abuse. (Read the introduction, pdf).

Godel also shared a unique friendship with Einstein at Princeton (see my blogpost on Astronomy - Time, Relativity, Black Holes, and the Universe). He spent his last years suffering from paranoic delusions, which essentially led him to starve himself to death. Also read
Palle Yourgrau's books: The Disappearance of Time : Kurt Gödel and the Idealistic Tradition in Philosophy, A World Without Time: The Forgotten Legacy Of Godel And Einstein and Godel Meets Einstein

A recent book by Rebecca Goldstein , Incompleteness - The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Godel last year 'reinterprets the evidence and restores to Gödel's famous idea the meaning he claimed he intended: that there is a mathematical truth--an objective certainty--underlying everything and existing independently of human thought.' Godel was in the news 25 years ago also because of a book - the 1979 Pulitzer-Prize winning book Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter. An earlier book in 1958 - Godel's Proof by James Newman and Ernest Nagel - presented the main results of Gödel's incompleteness theorem and the mathematical work and philosophies leading up to its discovery in a more accessible manner. This book inspired Hofstadter to take up the study of mathematical logic, write the book Gödel, Escher, Bach, and prepare a second edition of Gödel's Proof, published in 2002.

Also see:
Collected Works : Volume I: Publications 1929-1936
Collected Works : Volume II: Publications 1938-1974
Collected Works : Volume III: Unpublished essays and lectures
Collected Works : Volume V: Correspondence, H-Z (Godel, Kurt//Collected Works)
Reflections on Kurt Gödel by Hao Wang
Logical Dilemmas: The Life and Work of Kurt Godel by John W. Dawson Jr

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