Alonzo Church

Born: 14 June 1903 in Washington, D.C., USA
Died: 11 Aug 1995 in Hudson, Ohio, USA

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Church was a student at Princeton receiving his first degree in 1924, then his doctorate three years later. He spent a year at Harvard University then a year at Göttingen. He returned to the USA becoming professor of mathematics at Princeton in 1929, a post he held until 1967 when he became professor of mathematics and philosophy at California.

His work is of major importance in mathematical logic, recursion theory and in theoretical computer science. He created the l calculus in the 1930's which today is an invaluable tool for computer scientists.

He is best remembered for Church's Theorem (1936), which shows there is no decision procedure for arithmetic. It appears in An unsolvable problem in elementary number theory published in the American Journal of Mathematics 58 (1936), 345-363. His work extended that of Gödel.

Church founded the Journal of Symbolic Logic in 1936 and remained an editor until 1979. He wrote the book Introduction to Mathematical Logic in 1956.

He had 31 doctoral students including Turing, Kleene, Kemeny and Smullyan.

References (6 books/articles)

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JOC/EFR December 1996