Eloge: Alfred Tarski, 1901-1983
Original Publication Date: 1984-Oct-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-06
Software Patent Institute
J. W. ADDISON: AUTHOR [+2]
The following eloge is reprinted, with permission, from the December 1983 ";California Monthly,"; the alumni magazine of the University of California at Berkeley, where Addison is chairman of the group in Logic and the Methodology of Science.
THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.
Copyright ©; 1984 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.
Eloge: Alfred Tarski, 1901-1983
J. W. ADDISON
(Image Omitted: Categories and Subject Descriptors: A.0 [General] -- biographies, A. Tarski;
K.2 [History of Computing] -- people, A. Tarski. General Terms: Algorithms, Theory. Additional Key Words and Phrases: logic. Photograph by Ron Delany.)
The following eloge is reprinted, with permission, from the December 1983 "California Monthly," the alumni magazine of the University of California at Berkeley, where Addison is chairman of the group in Logic and the Methodology of Science.
Emeritus Professor of Mathematics Alfred Tarski, widely regarded as one of the four greatest logicians of all time (along with Aristotle, Gottlob Frege, and Kurt Godel), passed away on October 27, 1983, at the age of 82.
A great teacher and influential scientific leader as well as a profound thinker, Tarski arrived in Berkeley in 1942 at the age of 41 and built up what is often cited as the outstanding center for research in logic and the foundations of mathematics in the world. His mathematical treatment of the semantics of languages and the concept of truth has had revolutionary consequences for mathematics, linguistics, and philosophy, and Tarski is widely thought of as the man who "defined truth." The seeming simplicity of his famous example that the sentence "Snow is white" is true just in case snow is white belies the depth and complexity of the consequences which can be drawn from the possibility of giving a general treatment of the concept of truth in formal mathematical languages in a rigorous mathematical way. Among such consequences is his celebrated theorem that the set of true sentences of any sufficiently expressive formal language cannot be defined in that language itself (although it can be defined in a richer language).
(Image Omitted: Alfred Tarski in 1981.)
Born in Warsaw, Poland, in 1901, Tarski was educated in Polish schools and received his Ph.D. at the University of Warsaw in 1924. His education was rather more rigorous and demanding than most American students receive today: as he recalled in 1981 (when Chancellor Heyman presented him with the Berkeley Citation in a ceremony honoring his 80th birthday), his high school curriculum involved the study of six foreign languages (in addition to logic -- the only subject in which he received a grade of B!). Nor were his early teaching duties light: as a professor in Zeromski's Lycee and docent (and later adjunct professor) at the University of Warsaw, he sometimes taught as many as 29 hours a week! AE was the case with many now- famous workers in the then-budding discipline of mathematical logic, broad recognition came to Tarski slowly -- appointed as a lecturer at Berkeley in 1942, he became a full professor only in 1946 at age 45.
Of his numerous investigations, outlined...