David Hilbert

It’s Computable – thanks to Alonzo Church

It’s Computable – thanks to Alonzo Church

You know, the fact that you can read your email on a cell phone as well as on your desktop computer or almost any other computer connected to the internet, in principle is possible thanks to mathematician Alonzo Church, who gave the proof (together with Alan Turing) that everything that is computable on the simple model of a Turing Machine, also is computable with any other ‘computer model’. Church studied at Princeton…
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Churchill’s Best Horse in the Barn – Alan Turing, Codebreaker and AI Pioneer

Churchill’s Best Horse in the Barn – Alan Turing, Codebreaker and AI Pioneer

On June 23, 1912, English computer scientist, mathematician, logician, and cryptanalyst,Alan Mathison Turing was born. Outside the world of computer science or mathematics the name of probably the most influential figure and in some sense the father of all computing technology Alan Turing is hardly known. But it was him, who laid the foundations of the theory of computing. Already in the 1930s, when no digital electronic computer had ever been built,…
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Kurt Gödel Shaking the Very Foundations of Mathematics

Kurt Gödel Shaking the Very Foundations of Mathematics

On April 28, 1906, Kurt Gödel was born. He was one of the most significant logicians of all time. Gödel made an immense impact upon scientific and philosophical thinking in the 20th century, a time when many, such as Bertrand Russell, A. N. Whitehead and David Hilbert, were pioneering the use of logic and set theory to understand the foundations of mathematics. “Either mathematics is too big for the human mind, or the human…
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Emmy Noether and the Love for Mathematics

Emmy Noether and the Love for Mathematics

On April 23, 1882, German mathematician and physicist Emmy Noether was born, who is best known for her groundbreaking contributions to abstract algebra and theoretical physics. Albert Einstein called her the most important woman in the history of mathematics, as she revolutionized the theories of rings, fields, and algebras. “My methods are really methods of working and thinking; this is why they have crept in everywhere anonymously.” Letter to Helmut Hasse (1931)…
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Georg Cantor and the Beauty of Infinity

Georg Cantor and the Beauty of Infinity

On March 3, 1845, German mathematician Georg Cantor, creator of the set theory was born. Set Theory is considered the fundamental theory of mathematics. He also proved that the real numbers are “more numerous” than the natural numbers, which was quite shocking for his contemporaries that there should be different numbers of infinity. “In mathematics the art of asking questions is more valuable than solving problems.” Georg Cantor, Doctoral thesis (1867) Georg Cantor…
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Paul Bernays and the Unified Theory of Mathematics

Paul Bernays and the Unified Theory of Mathematics

On October 17, 1888, Swiss mathematician and logician Paul Isaac Bernays was born. Bernays made significant contributions to mathematical logic, axiomatic set theory, and the philosophy of mathematics. He was an assistant and close collaborator of David Hilbert.[6] Bernays is known for his attempts to develop a unified theory of mathematics. “Enlightened humanity has sought in rational definiteness its liberating refuge from the dominating influence of the merely authoritative. At the present time,…
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Emil Artin and Algebraic Number Theory

Emil Artin and Algebraic Number Theory

On March 3, 1898, Austrian mathematician Emil Artin was born. Artin was one of the leading mathematicians of the twentieth century. He is best known for his work on algebraic number theory, contributing largely to class field theory and a new construction of L-functions. He also contributed to the pure theories of rings, groups and fields. Emil Artin was born in Vienna to parents Emma Maria Artin, a soubrette on the operetta…
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Felix Klein and the Klein-Bottle

Felix Klein and the Klein-Bottle

On April 25, 1849, German mathematician and mathematics educator Felix Klein was born. Klein is known for his work in group theory, complex analysis, non-Euclidean geometry, and on the connections between geometry and group theory. His 1872 Erlangen Program, classifying geometries by their underlying symmetry groups, was a hugely influential synthesis of much of the mathematics of the day. Klein also devised the Klein-bottle, a one-sided surface which, if traveled upon, could…
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Hermann Minkowski and the four-dimensional Space-Time

Hermann Minkowski and the four-dimensional Space-Time

On June 22, 1864, German mathematician Hermann Minkowski was born. Minkowski developed the geometry of numbers and used geometrical methods to solve problems in number theory, mathematical physics, and the theory of relativity. But he is perhaps best known for his work in relativity, in which he showed in 1907 that his former student Albert Einstein’s special theory of relativity can be understood geometrically as a theory of four-dimensional space–time, since known as the “Minkowski…
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Alfred Tarski and the Undefinability of Truth

Alfred Tarski and the Undefinability of Truth

On January 14, 1902, Polish-American mathematician and logician Alfred Tarski was born. A prolific author he is best known for his work on model theory, metamathematics, and algebraic logic, he also contributed to abstract algebra, topology, geometry, measure theory, mathematical logic, set theory, and analytic philosophy. For my annual Semantic Web Technologies lecture series I always introduce my students to model-theoretic semantics as a means to enable a formal representation of meaning…
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