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Alonzo Church

  • American mathematician
  • Born June 14, 1903
  • Died August 11, 1995

Alonzo Church (June 14, 1903 – August 11, 1995) was an American mathematician and logician who made major contributions to mathematical logic and the foundations of theoretical computer science. He is best known for the lambda calculus, Church–Turing thesis, proving the undecidability of the Entscheidungsproblem, Frege–Church ontology, and the Church–Rosser theorem. He also worked on philosophy of language (see e.g. Church 1970).


Well it was not exactly a dissertation in logic, at least not the kind of logic you would find in Whitehead and Russell's Principia Mathematica for instance. It looked more like mathematics; no formalized language was used.




I was an undergraduate at Princeton, and I was pressed by the math department to go on to graduate school. Actually they gave me fellowships that paid my way, otherwise I would not have been able to continue.




The only thing that might have annoyed some mathematicians was the presumption of assuming that maybe the axiom of choice could fail, and that we should look into contrary assumptions.




I tried reading Hilbert. Only his papers published in mathematical periodicals were available at the time. Anybody who has tried those knows they are very hard reading.




Never had any mathematical conversations with anybody, because there was nobody else in my field.



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