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Principles of Mathematical Logic

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Title: Principles of Mathematical Logic  
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Subject: Wilhelm Ackermann, Logic, Kurt Gödel, History of logic, 1928 in science
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Principles of Mathematical Logic

Principles of Mathematical Logic is the 1950 American translation of the 1938 second edition of David Hilbert's and Wilhelm Ackermann's classic text Grundzüge der theoretischen Logik,[1] on elementary mathematical logic. The 1928 first edition thereof is considered the first elementary text clearly grounded in the formalism now known as first-order logic (FOL). Hilbert and Ackermann also formalized FOL in a way that subsequently achieved canonical status. FOL is now a core formalism of mathematical logic, and is presupposed by contemporary treatments of Peano arithmetic and nearly all treatments of axiomatic set theory.

The 1928 edition included a clear statement of the Entscheidungsproblem (decision problem) for FOL, and also asked whether that logic was complete (i.e., whether all semantic truths of FOL were theorems derivable from the FOL axioms and rules). The first problem was answered in the negative by Alonzo Church in 1936. The second was answered affirmatively by Kurt Gödel in 1929.

The text also touched on set theory and relational algebra as ways of going beyond FOL. Contemporary notation for logic owes more to this text than it does to the notation of Principia Mathematica, long popular in the English speaking world.



  • David Hilbert and Wilhelm Ackermann (1928). Grundzüge der theoretischen Logik (Principles of Mathematical Logic). Springer-Verlag, ISBN 0-8218-2024-9. This text went into four subsequent German editions, the last in 1972.
  • Hendricks, Neuhaus, Petersen, Scheffler and Wansing (eds.) (2004). First-order logic revisited. Logos Verlag, ISBN 3-8325-0475-3. Proceedings of a workshop, FOL-75, commemorating the 75th anniversary of the publication of Hilbert and Ackermann (1928).

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