- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 4 edition (March 4, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0521007585
- ISBN-13: 978-0521007580
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.8 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 17 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,071,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Computability and Logic 4th Edition
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"The writing style is excellent: although many explanations are formal, they are perfectly clear. Modern, elegant proofs help the reader understand the classic theorems and keep the book to a reasonable length." Computing Reviews
Now in its fourth edition, this book has become a classic because of its accessibility to tudents without a mathematical background, and because it covers not simply the staple topics of an intermediate logic course such as Godel's Incompleteness Theorems, but also a large number of optional topics from Turing's theory of computability to Ramsey's theorem. John Burgess has now enhanced the book by adding a selection of problems at the end of each chapter, and by reorganising and rewriting chapters to make them more independent of each other.
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And the style? The philosophical lexicon contains the following entry: [boo, n. The length of a mathematical or logical proof; hence, booloss, n., the process of shortening such a proof. "Only after significant booloss could the compactness theorem be explained in fifteen minutes."]. That one is pretty apt. With the Berry paradox, Boolos is able to prove the first incompleteness theorem in approximately half a page (a more standard approach is of course included as well). He has elsewhere explained the second incompleteness theorem using only one-syllable words. Point is: these authors (and, one suspects, Boolos in particular) has (had) an almost scary ability to make difficult things simple and easily comprehensible.
That said, I do have a few misgivings. The typos have of course been mentioned (a list of errata is available on [...] but most have been corrected in the second printing (so if you buy the book new, you'll probably get this one) - there are a few left, however. I am also not sure about some of the changes to the fourth edition. In particular, the structure of the proofs of the completeness, compactness and Löwenheim-Skolem theorems is somewhat surprising, proceeding from two lemmas concerning "satisfaction properties" and "closure properties". It is an interesting move, but will (partially because of the presentation, admittedly) surely be somewhat confusing to anyone coming to these for the first time not already being aware of how they fit together.
That said, there is no way I can give this book less than five stars. There is simply no relevant competition comparable in accessibility and comprehensiveness. Urgently recommended.
The book is highly readable. Each chapter begins with a short paragraph outlining the topics in the chapter, how they relate to each other, and how they connect with the topics in later and earlier chapters. These intros by themselves are valuable. The explanations though are what stand out. The authors are somehow able to take the reader's hand and guide him/her leisurely along with plentiful examples, but without getting bogged down in excessive prose. And they are somehow able to cover a substantive amount of material in a short space without seeming rushed or making the text too dense. It's nothing short of miraculous.
What made the book especially appealing to me is that it starts right out with Turing Machines. As a topologist who recently got interested in computational topology, I needed a book that would quickly impart a good, intuitive grasp of the basic notions of computability. I have more "mathematical maturity" than is needed to read an introductory book on computability, so I feel confident in saying that most of the standard texts on computability revel in excessive detail, like defining Turing Machines as a 6-tuple -- something that serves no purpose other than pedantry. This book is different. I particularly liked how the authors stress the intuitive notions underlying the definitions. For example, they lay special emphasis on the Church-Turing thesis, always asking the reader to consider how arguments can be simplified if it were true.
One should note that the emphasis of this book is more towards logic. While it starts with issues of computability, it moves into issues of provability, consistency, etc. The book covers the standards such as Goedel's famous incompleteness theorems in addition to some less standard topics at the end of the book. A small set of instructive exercises follows each chapter.
Most recent customer reviews
This book was written by philosophy professors and shows it.Read more
As a Maths graduate, and one who still reads the subject for fun, I thought I could handle things mathematical until I came by...Read more