Kurt Godel

National Medal of Science

Mathematics And Computer Science

For laying the foundation for today's flourishing study of mathematical logic.

For laying the foundation for today's flourishing study of mathematical logic.

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Birth
April 28, 1906
Age Awarded
68
Country of Birth
Austria
Key Contributions
Study Of Mathematical Logic
Awarded by
Gerald R. Ford
Education
University of Vienna
Areas of Impact
Theory & Foundations
Affiliations
Institute for Advanced Study
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As a child, Kurt Godel was nicknamed “der Herr Warum” or “Mr. Why” for his inquisitive nature.

At the University of Vienna, his thriving curiosity prompted his attendance at meetings of the Vienna Circle, a group of philosophers focused on logical positivism – a school of thought based on the idea that the only meaningful philosophical problems are ones that can be solved by logical analysis.

In 1931, Godel published his incompleteness theorems, which demonstrated the limitations in any axiomatic system. An axiomatic system is a series of axioms – established truths – that can be used to devise a theorem.

Godel’s work states that any rigidly logical mathematical system contains questions that cannot be proved or disproved using axioms within that system. In addition, he argued that it’s not guaranteed that the basic axioms of mathematics will not create contradictions.

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

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