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Alfred Tarski

(1901—1983)


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(1901–83)

Born Alfred Teitelbaum to a Jewish family, and educated in Warsaw, Tarski studied first biology and then mathematics. In logic he studied with Kotarbinski, Łukasiewicz and Lesniewski, publishing a succession of papers from 1923 onwards. He changed his name at the time of receiving his doctorate in 1924. He met Gödel and the leaders of the Vienna circle, including Carnap in 1930, and went to the USA in 1939, narrowly escaping internment and probable death at the hands of the Nazis. He conducted research briefly at Harvard, and then moved to the university of California at Berkeley in 1942. Together with Abraham Robinson (1918–74) he created the mathematical theory of models, and his programme at Berkeley and indefatigable energy was responsible for spreading mathematical logic and model theory worldwide. He worked on decidable and undecidable axiomatic systems, and in the course of his mathematical career he published over 300 papers and books, on topics ranging from set theory to geometry and algebra. Tarski's logical work is well seen in A Decision Method for Elementary Algebra and Geometry (1948), and for philosophers he is best represented in the collection Logic, Semantics, and Metamathematics (1956). There is a definitive biography (2004) by Solomon and Anita Burdman Feferman.

Subjects: Philosophy


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