Alfred Tarski: Life and Logic

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Overview

Alfred Tarski, one of the greatest logicians of all time, is widely thought of as "the man who defined truth." His work on the concepts of truth and logical consequence are cornerstones of modern logic, influencing developments in mathematics, philosophy, linguistics, and computer science. Tarski was a charismatic teacher and zealous promoter of his view of logic as the foundation of all rational thought, a bon vivant and a womanizer, who played the "great man" to the hilt.

Born in Warsaw in 1901 to Jewish parents, he changed his name and converted to Catholicism but was never able to obtain a professorship in his home country. A fortuitous trip to the United States at the outbreak of World War II saved his life and turned his career around, even while it separated him from his family for years. By the war's end he was established as a professor of mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley. There Tarski built an empire in logic and methodology that attracted students and distinguished researchers from all over the world.

From the cafes of Warsaw and Vienna to the mountains and deserts of California, this first full-length biography places Tarski in the social, intellectual, and historical context of his times and presents a frank, vivid picture of a personally and professionally passionate man - interlaced with an account of his major scientific achievements.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A marvelously readable, informative and gossipy account of his life.... When I took up reading this book I never expected to find so much surprising material in it. It reads like a fascinating history of a huge fragment of mathematical logic in the twentieth century.... The book abounds in delightful anecdotes that reveal the magnetic personality of Tarski.... An excellent book from which one can learn a lot about the history of mathematical logic in the twentieth century, the remarkable influence of Tarski on this discipline, and, especially, about Tarski himself."
The Mathematical Intelligencer

"...fascinating..."
Hourya Benis Sinaceur, Notices of the AMS

"...in-depth... useful as supplemental reading material in a history of mathematics or logic course at the university level."
Scott H. Brown, Mathematics Teacher

"I recommend reading ALread Tarski: Life and Logic to all computer scientists, theoreticians or not, passionate about history and history of science or not, as we all need to better understand our field and its emergence." --Pierre Lescanne

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521802406
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 9/15/2004
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Meet the Author

Anita Burdman Feferman is an independent scholar and writer. She is the author of Politics, Logic and Love: The Life of Jean van Heijenoort (published in paperback as From Trotsky to Gödel: The Life of Jean van Heijenoort). She knew Alfred Tarski socially for thirty years.

Solomon Feferman is on the faculty of Stanford University, where he is professor of mathematics and philosophy. He is a recipient of the Rolf Schock Prize in Logic and Philosophy, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has held a Guggenheim fellowship twice. He is the author of In the Light of Logic and the editor-in-chief of the multi-volume Kurt Gödel: Collected Works. He was one of Tarski's students at UC Berkeley in the 1950s.

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Table of Contents

The Two Tarskis     1
Independence and University     20
The Banach-Tarski Paradox, Set Theory, and the Axiom of Choice     43
Polot! The Polish Attribute     53
The Completeness and Decidability of Algebra and Geometry     69
A Wider Sphere of Influence     76
Truth and Definability     109
How the "Unity of Science" Saved Tarski's Life     124
Berkeley Is So Far from Princeton     150
Building a School     171
The Publication Campaigns     189
"Papa Tarski" and His Students     196
Three Meetings and Two Departures     220
Logic and Methodology, Center Stage     246
Heydays     257
Model Theory and the 1963 Symposium     277
Around the World     288
Los Angeles and Berkeley     310
Algebras of Logic     334
A Decade of Honors     343
The Last Times     372
Authors' Note and Acknowledgments     381
Tarski's Ph.D. Students     385
Credits     387
Polish Pronunciation Guide     391
Notes     393
Bibliography     409
Index of Names     417

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