Alonzo Church

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Alonzo Church
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{{About|the mathematician and logician|the president of the University of Georgia, U.S.A|Alonzo S. Church}}{{short description|American mathematician}}

| birth_place = Washington, D.C., US1995116|14}} | death_place = Hudson, Ohio, US | residence = United States| nationality = American| field = Mathematics, logic| work_institution = Princeton University (1929–67)UCLA (1967–95) | alma_mater = Princeton University| doctoral_advisor = Oswald VeblenC. Anthony Anderson 1977Peter Andrews (mathematician)>Peter Andrews 1964Bijan Arbab 1988George Alfred Barnard 1936James Bennett 1962William Boone (mathematician) 1952Enrique Bustamente-Llaca 1944Edward Chapin 1970Donald Collins 1967Aubert Daigneault 1959Martin Davis (mathematician)>Martin Davis 1950William Bigelow Easton 1964Alfred Foster (mathematician)>Alfred Foster 1930James Guard 1961Leon Henkin 1947Gustav Hensel 1963David Kaplan (philosopher)John George Kemeny 1949Stephen Cole Kleene 1934Simon B. Kochen 1959Maurice L'Abbé 1951Isaac Malitz>Isaac (Richard) Malitz 1976Gary R. Mar 1985Gerald Massey 1964Michael O. Rabin 1957Nicholas Rescher 1951Wayne Richter 1963Robert Ritchie 1960Joel Robbin 1965Hartley Rogers, Jr 1952J. Barkley Rosser 1934Dana Scott 1958Norman Shapiro 1955Raymond Smullyan 1959Alan Turing 1938JONATHAN P. >LAST=BOWEN CHAPTER=THE IMPACT OF ALAN TURING: FORMAL METHODS AND BEYOND EDITOR-FIRST1=JONATHAN P. EDITOR-FIRST2=ZHIMING EDITOR-LAST3=ZHANG TITLE=ENGINEERING TRUSTWORTHY SOFTWARE SYSTEMS. SETSS 2018 LECTURE NOTES IN COMPUTER SCIENCE > VOLUME=11430 DATE=2019 SPRINGER NATURE>SPRINGER DOI=10.1007/978-3-030-17601-3_5, Robert Winder 1962| known_for = Lambda calculusChurch's theoremChurch–Turing thesisFrege–Church ontologyChurch–Rosser theorem | thesis_title = Alternatives to Zermelo's Assumption| thesis_url =weblink| thesis_year = 1927}}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).


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, the son attended the private Ridgefield School for Boys in Ridgefield, Connecticut.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. After graduating from Ridgefield in 1920, Church attended Princeton University, where he was an exceptional student. He published his first paper on Lorentz transformations and graduated in 1924 with a degree in mathematics. He stayed at Princeton for graduate work, earning a Ph.D. in mathematics in three years under Oswald Veblen.He married Mary Julia Kuczinski in 1925. 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. He received a two-year National Research Fellowship that enabled him to attend Harvard University in 1927–1928, and the University of Göttingen and University of Amsterdam the following year.He taught philosophy and mathematics at Princeton for nearly four decades, 1929–1967. He taught at the University of California, Los Angeles, 1967–1990. He was a Plenary Speaker at the ICM in 1962 in Stockholm.Church, Alonzo. "Logic, arithmetic and automata." {{Webarchive|url= |date=2013-12-28 }} In Proceedings of the International Congress of Mathematicians, pp. 23–35. 1962.He received honorary Doctor of Science degrees from Case Western Reserve University in 1969,Honorary degrees awarded by Case Western Reserve University Princeton University in 1985,Honorary degrees awarded by Princeton University {{webarchive|url= |date=2016-02-07 }} 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.Finding Aid for The Honorary Degree Conferral of Doctor of Science to Alonzo Church, 1990A deeply religious person, Church was a lifelong member of the Presbyterian church.WEB, Introduction Alonzo Church: Life and Work,weblink 6 June 2012, 4, A deeply religious person, he was a lifelong member of the Presbyterian church., dead,weblink" title="">weblink 1 September 2012, He died in 1995 and was buried in Princeton Cemetery.

Mathematical work

Church is known for the following significant accomplishments: 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. Just Formal Enough? Automated Analysis of EARS RequirementsThe lambda calculus influenced the design of the LISP programming language and functional programming languages in general. The Church encoding is named in his honor.In his honor the Alonzo Church Award for Outstanding Contributions to Logic and Computation was established in 2015 by the Association for Computing Machinery Special Interest Group for Logic and Computation (ACM SIGLOG), the European Association for Theoretical Computer Science (EATCS), the European Association for Computer Science Logic (EACSL), and the Kurt Gödel Society (KGS). The awardis for an outstanding contribution to the field published within the past 25 years and must not yet have received recognition via another major award, such as the Turing Award, the Paris Kanellakis Award, or the Gödel Prize.Alonzo Church Awardweblink

Philosophical work



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.WEB,weblink Mathematics Genealogy Project, 12 August 2010,weblink" title="">weblink 4 August 2010, live, A more complete list of Church's students is available via Mathematics Genealogy Project.


  • Alonzo Church, Introduction to Mathematical Logic ({{ISBN|978-0-691-02906-1}})JOURNAL, Henkin, Leon, Review: Introduction to Mathematical Logic by Alonzo Church, Bull. Amer. Math. Soc., 1957, 63, 5, 320–323,weblink 10.1090/s0002-9904-1957-10129-3,
  • Alonzo Church, The Calculi of Lambda-Conversion ({{isbn|978-0-691-08394-0}})JOURNAL, Orrin Frink, Frink Jr., Orrin, Review: The Calculi of Lambda-Conversion by Alonzo Church, Bull. Amer. Math. Soc., 1944, 50, 3, 169–172,weblink 10.1090/s0002-9904-1944-08090-7,
  • Alonzo Church, A Bibliography of Symbolic Logic, 1666–1935 ({{isbn|978-0-8218-0084-3}})
  • C. Anthony Anderson and Michael Zelëny, (eds.), Logic, Meaning and Computation: Essays in Memory of Alonzo Church ({{isbn|978-1-4020-0141-3}})

See also




  • Enderton, Herbert B., weblink" title="">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.
  • weblink" title="">Alonzo Church interviewed by William Aspray on 17 May 1984. The Princeton Mathematics Community in the 1930s: An Oral-History Project, transcript number 5.
  • Rota, Gian-Carlo, 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 weblink" title="">here.
  • JOURNAL, On Carnap's Analysis of Statements of Assertion and Belief, The Journal of Symbolic Logic, 1950, 10, 5, 97–99, 10.2307/3326684, Church, A.,
  • JOURNAL, harv, C. Anthony, Anderson, Alonzo Church's contributions to philosophy and Intensional Logic, 1998,, 421020,

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