Raymond Smullyan

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Raymond Merrill Smullyan (born May 25, 1919) is an American mathematician, concert pianist, logician, Taoist philosopher, and magician.

Born in Far Rockaway, New York, his first career (like Persi Diaconis a generation later) was stage magic. He then earned a BSc from the University of Chicago in 1955 and his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1959. He is one of many logicians to have studied under Alonzo Church.[1]

Contents

Life

Born in Far Rockaway, New York, he showed musical talent, winning a gold medal in a piano competition when he was aged 12.[1] The following year, his family moved to Manhattan and he attended Theodore Roosevelt High School in The Bronx as this school offered courses suited to his musical talents, but he left to study on his own as the school did not offer similar courses in mathematics.[1]

He attended several colleges, studying mathematics and music.[1]

While a Ph.D. student, Smullyan published a paper in the 1957 Journal of Symbolic Logic showing that Gödelian incompleteness held for formal systems considerably more elementary than that of Gödel's 1931 landmark paper. The contemporary understanding of Gödel's theorem dates from this paper. Smullyan later made a compelling case that much of the fascination with Gödel's theorem should be directed at Tarski's theorem, which is much easier to prove and equally disturbing philosophically. The culmination of Smullyan's lifelong reflection on the classic limitative theorems of mathematical logic is his quite readable:

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