Logic’s Lost Genius: The Life of Gerhard GentzenShare this page
A co-publication of the AMS and the London Mathematical Society
Gerhard Gentzen (1909–1945) is the founder of modern structural proof
theory. His lasting methods, rules, and structures resulted not only
in the technical mathematical discipline called “proof theory” but
also in verification programs that are essential in computer
science. The appearance, clarity, and elegance of Gentzen's work on
natural deduction, the sequent calculus, and ordinal proof theory
continue to be impressive even today.
The present book gives the first comprehensive, detailed, accurate scientific biography expounding the life and work of Gerhard Gentzen, one of our greatest logicians, until his arrest and death in Prague in 1945.
Particular emphasis in the book is put on the conditions of scientific research, in this case mathematical logic, in National Socialist Germany, the ideological fight for “German logic”, and their mutual protagonists. Numerous hitherto unpublished sources, family documents, archival material, interviews, and letters, as well as Gentzen's lectures for the mathematical public, make this book an indispensable source of information on this important mathematician, his work, and his time. The volume is completed by two deep substantial essays by Jan von Plato and Craig Smoryński on Gentzen's proof theory; its relation to the ideas of Hilbert, Brouwer, Weyl, and Gödel; and its development up to the present day. Smoryński explains the Hilbert program in more than the usual slogan form and shows why consistency is important. Von Plato shows in detail the benefits of Gentzen's program.
This important book is a self-contained starting point for any work on Gentzen and his logic. The book is accessible to a wide audience with different backgrounds and is suitable for general readers, researchers, students, and teachers.