Kurt Godel

Kurt Friedrich Godel (Kurt Friedrich Gödel) was an Austrian mathematician/logician. Godel’s work made great impact on both mathematical and logical societies respectively.

kurt godel

Early life

Kurt Friedrich Godel was born April 28, 1906, in Brno, Austria-Hungary in ethnic German family of Rudolf Gödel, local manager in textile industry, and Marianne Gödel. Although he was ethnicaly Austrian, he automaticly received Czechoslovak citizenship since Brno became part of Czechoslovakia since Austro-Hungary fell appart after WWI. Afterwards, Godel clamied German and later American citizenship. It has been said that Kurt was a very curious child which even earned him a nickname “Herr Warum”(Mr. Why).

Education

When he turned 18, Godel joined his brother in the University of Vienna where he studied theoretical physics. During his studies he took some mathematics and philosophy classes. He was a part of Vienna Circle which was an association of philosophers gathered around the University of Vienna in 1922, chaired by Moritz Schlick, also known as the Ernst Mach Society (Verein Ernst Mach) in honour of Ernst Mach. Under the the influence of Moritz Schlick. Godel became interested in mathematical logic. At the age of 23, he completed his doctoral dissertation under Hans Hahn’s supervision. In it, he established the completeness of the first-order predicate calculus (Godel’s completeness theorem). He was awarded his doctorate in 1930. His thesis, along with some additional work, was published by the Vienna Academy of Science.

Accomplishments

Godel is best known for his two incompleteness theorems, published in 1931 when he was 25 years old, one year after finishing his doctorate at the University of Vienna. The more famous 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 naturals that cannot be proved from the axioms. To prove this theorem, Gödel developed a technique now known as Godel numbering, which codes formal expressions as natural numbers.

Godel published many scientific works in his time, many of those were crucial for development of modern mathematics and mathematical logics.

Later life

Later during life, Godel periodicaly suffered from lacking mental health and even paranoia. He had an obsessive fear of being poisoned; he would eat only food that his wife, Adele, prepared for him. Late in 1977, Adele was hospitalized for six months and could no longer prepare Godel’s food. In her absence, he refused to eat, eventually starving to death. He weighed 65 pounds (approximately 30 kg) 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.

Kurt Godel quotes

“The more I think about language, the more it amazes me that people ever understand each other at all.”

“The meaning of world is the separation of wish and fact.”

“I don’t believe in empirical science. I only believe in a priori truth.”

Best books about Kurt Godel