Alonzo Church
Alonzo Church  

Alonzo Church (1903–1995)


Born 
Washington, D.C., US 
June 14, 1903
Died  August 11, 1995 Hudson, Ohio, US 
(aged 92)
Residence  United States 
Nationality  American 
Alma mater  Princeton University 
Known for 
Lambda calculus Church–Turing thesis Frege–Church ontology Church–Rosser theorem 
Scientific career  
Fields  Mathematics, Logic 
Institutions 
Princeton University (1929–67) UCLA (1967–95) 
Thesis  Alternatives to Zermelo's Assumption (1927) 
Doctoral advisor  Oswald Veblen 
Doctoral students 
C. Anthony Anderson Peter Andrews George Alfred Barnard Martin Davis Alfred Foster Leon Henkin David Kaplan John George Kemeny Stephen Kleene Gary R. Mar Michael O. Rabin Hartley Rogers, Jr J. Barkley Rosser Dana Scott Raymond Smullyan Alan Turing 
Alonzo Church (June 14, 1903 – August 11, 1995) was an American mathematician and logician who made major contributions to mathematical logic and the foundations of theoretical computer science. He is best known for the lambda calculus, Church–Turing thesis, proving the undecidability of the Entscheidungsproblem, Frege–Church ontology, and the Church–Rosser theorem. He also worked on philosophy of language (see e.g. Church 1970).
Contents
Life
Alonzo Church was born on June 14, 1903, in Washington, D.C., where his father, Samuel Robbins Church, was the judge of the Municipal Court for the District of Columbia. The family later moved to Virginia after his father lost this position because of failing eyesight. With help from his uncle, also named Alonzo Church, he was able to attend the Ridgefield School for Boys in Ridgefield, Connecticut.^{[1]} After graduating from Ridgefield in 1920, Church attended Princeton University where he was an exceptional student, publishing his first paper, on Lorentz transformations, and graduating in 1924 with a degree in mathematics. He stayed at Princeton, earning a Ph.D. in mathematics in three years under Oswald Veblen.
He married Mary Julia Kuczinski in 1925 and the couple had three children, Alonzo Church, Jr. (1929), Mary Ann (1933) and Mildred (1938).
After receiving his Ph.D. he taught briefly as an instructor at the University of Chicago and then received a twoyear National Research Fellowship. This allowed him to attend Harvard University in 1927–1928 and then both University of Göttingen and University of Amsterdam the following year. He taught philosophy and mathematics at Princeton, 1929–1967, and at the University of California, Los Angeles, 1967–1990. He was a Plenary Speaker at the ICM in 1962 in Stockholm.^{[2]} He received honorary Doctor of Science degrees from Case Western Reserve University in 1969,^{[3]} Princeton University in 1985,^{[4]} and the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York in 1990 in connection with an international symposium in his honor organized by John Corcoran.^{[5]}
A deeply religious person, he was a lifelong member of the Presbyterian church.^{[6]}
He died in 1995 and was buried in Princeton Cemetery.^{[7]}
Mathematical work
Church is known for the following accomplishments:
 His proof that the Entscheidungsproblem, which asks for a decision procedure to determine the truth of arbitrary propositions in a firstorder mathematical theory, is undecidable. This is known as Church's theorem.^{[8]}
 His proof that Peano arithmetic is undecidable.
 His articulation of what has come to be known as the Church–Turing thesis.
 He was the founding editor of the Journal of Symbolic Logic, editing its reviews section until 1979.
 His creation of the lambda calculus.
The lambda calculus emerged in his 1936 paper showing the unsolvability of the Entscheidungsproblem. This result preceded Alan Turing's work on the halting problem, which also demonstrated the existence of a problem unsolvable by mechanical means. Church and Turing then showed that the lambda calculus and the Turing machine used in Turing's halting problem were equivalent in capabilities, and subsequently demonstrated a variety of alternative "mechanical processes for computation." This resulted in the Church–Turing thesis.
The efforts for automatically generating a controller implementation from specifications originates from his ideas.^{[9]}
The lambda calculus influenced the design of the LISP programming language and functional programming languages in general. The Church encoding is named in his honor.
Philosophical work
Church’s elaboration of a methodology involving the logistic method, his philosophical criticisms of nominalism and his defense of realism, his argumentation leading to conclusions about the theory of meaning, and the detailed construction of the Fregean and Russellian intensional logics, are more than sufficient to place him high up among the most important philosophers of this century.
— C. Anthony Anderson^{[10]}
Students
Many of Church's doctoral students have led distinguished careers, including C. Anthony Anderson, Peter B. Andrews, George A. Barnard, David Berlinski, William W. Boone, Martin Davis, Alfred L. Foster, Leon Henkin, John G. Kemeny, Stephen C. Kleene, Simon B. Kochen, Maurice L'Abbé, Isaac Malitz, Gary R. Mar, Michael O. Rabin, Nicholas Rescher, Hartley Rogers, Jr., J. Barkley Rosser, Dana Scott, Raymond Smullyan, and Alan Turing.^{[11]} A more complete list of Church's students is available via Mathematics Genealogy Project.
Books
 Alonzo Church, Introduction to Mathematical Logic (ISBN 9780691029061)^{[12]}
 Alonzo Church, The Calculi of LambdaConversion (ISBN 9780691083940)^{[13]}
 Alonzo Church, A Bibliography of Symbolic Logic, 1666–1935 (ISBN 9780821800843)
 C. Anthony Anderson and Michael Zelëny, (eds.), Logic, Meaning and Computation: Essays in Memory of Alonzo Church (ISBN 9781402001413)
See also
 Church–Turing–Deutsch principle
 Higherorder logic
 List of pioneers in computer science
 Universal set
Notes
 ^ The Ridgefield School for Boys, also known as the Ridgefield School, was a private school that existed from 1907 to 1938. See The Ridgefield School.
 ^ Church, Alonzo. "Logic, arithmetic and automata." In Proceedings of the International Congress of Mathematicians, pp. 23–35. 1962.
 ^ Honorary degrees awarded by Case Western Reserve University
 ^ Honorary degrees awarded by Princeton University Archived 20160207 at the Wayback Machine.
 ^ Finding Aid for The Honorary Degree Conferral of Doctor of Science to Alonzo Church, 1990

^ "Introduction Alonzo Church: Life and Work" (PDF). p. 4. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 September 2012. Retrieved 6 June 2012.
A deeply religious person, he was a lifelong member of the Presbyterian church.
 ^ Alonzo Church at Find a Grave
 ^ Church, A. (1936). "An unsolvable problem of elementary number theory". American Journal of Mathematics. 58 (2): 345–363. doi:10.2307/2371045. JSTOR 2371045.
 ^ Just Formal Enough? Automated Analysis of EARS Requirements
 ^ (Anderson 1998)
 ^ "Mathematics Genealogy Project". Archived from the original on 4 August 2010. Retrieved 12 August 2010.
 ^ Henkin, Leon (1957). "Review: Introduction to Mathematical Logic by Alonzo Church" (PDF). Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 63 (5): 320–323. doi:10.1090/s000299041957101293.
 ^ Frink Jr., Orrin (1944). "Review: The Calculi of LambdaConversion by Alonzo Church" (PDF). Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 50 (3): 169–172. doi:10.1090/s000299041944080907.
References
 Enderton, Herbert B., Alonzo Church: Life and Work. Introduction to the Collected Works of Alonzo Church, MIT Press, not yet published.
 Enderton, Herbert B., In memoriam: Alonzo Church, The Bulletin of Symbolic Logic, vol. 1, no. 4 (Dec. 1995), pp. 486–488.
 Wade, Nicholas, Alonzo Church, 92, Theorist of the Limits of Mathematics (obituary), The New York Times, September 5, 1995, p. B6.
 Hodges, Wilfred, Obituary: Alonzo Church, The Independent (London), September 14, 1995.
 Alonzo Church interviewed by William Aspray on 17 May 1984. The Princeton Mathematics Community in the 1930s: An OralHistory Project, transcript number 5.
 Rota, GianCarlo, Fine Hall in its golden age: Remembrances of Princeton in the early fifties. In A Century of Mathematics in America, Part II, edited by Peter Duren, AMS History of Mathematics, vol 2, American Mathematical Society, 1989, pp. 223–226. Also available here.
 Church, A. (1950). "On Carnap's Analysis of Statements of Assertion and Belief". The Journal of Symbolic Logic. 10 (5): 97–99. doi:10.2307/3326684.
 Anderson, C. Anthony (1998). "Alonzo Church's contributions to philosophy and Intensional Logic". CiteSeerX 10.1.1.26.7389 . JSTOR 421020.
External links
 O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Alonzo Church", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
 Alonzo Church at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
 Princeton University Library, Manuscripts Division, The Alonzo Church Papers, 1924–1995: finding aid.
 A bibliography of Church's reviews for The Journal of Symbolic Logic, with a link to each
 1903 births
 1995 deaths
 20thcentury American mathematicians
 American logicians
 American Presbyterians
 Computability theorists
 Princeton University alumni
 Harvard University alumni
 Princeton University faculty
 University of California, Los Angeles faculty
 Burials at Princeton Cemetery
 Philosophers from Washington, D.C.
 Philosophers from California
 Philosophers from New Jersey
 Mathematicians from Washington, D.C.
 20thcentury American philosophers