Kurt Godel (1906-1978), elected to
Academy membership in 1955, was noted for his contributions to the foundations of
logic and mathematics. In a celebrated paper published in 1931, Godel first put
forward what came to be known simply as "Godel's Theorem": In certain formal systems,
there exist propositions that cannot be proved or disproved using the axioms of that
system. With this theorem, Godel had effectively demonstrated that some mathematical
propositions are undecidable. Godel's Theorem made a deep impact in the fields of
mathematics and logic, and has been called the most significant mathematical truth of
the 20th century. Godel was born in Brunn (now Brno), in what is now the Czech Republic.
He studied physics in Vienna, and emigrated to the US in 1939, where he took a position at
Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study. In addition to other honors, in 1975 he was awarded
the National Medal of Science, the US government's highest scientific honor.
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