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Gottlob Frege

Gottlob FregeAKA Friedrich Ludwig Gottlob Frege

Born: 8-Nov-1848
Birthplace: Wismar, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany
Died: 26-Jul-1925
Location of death: Bad Kleinen, Germany
Cause of death: Illness
Remains: Buried, Wismar Cemetery, Wismar, Germany

Gender: Male
Religion: Lutheran
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Mathematician, Philosopher

Nationality: Germany
Executive summary: Mathematical logician

Military service: Prussian Army (1876)

German mathematician and logician Gottlob Frege worked at the blurry intersection between mathematics and philosophy, and laid out the principles of mathematical logic and the philosophy of mathematics. His Begriffsschrift (Conceptual Notation) presented the first system of mathematical logic, and argued that arithmetical truth could be established beyond doubt solely on the basis of logic. He constructed a formal system of logic that formulated the first propositional and predicate calculus, analyzed quantified statements and formalized the concept of proof, provided the first formal definition of cardinal numbers, and showed the use of this concept in determining the basic properties of numbers. He also devised the idea of quantifiers, crafted the mathematical notion of function and variables, and he was the first mathematician to describe the distinction between an axiom and a rule of inference in axiomatic theory. His work was admired by some of the most brilliant men of his era, including Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein, but in the wider circles of mathematics, philosophy, and science, his genius was recognized only long after his death.

Frege intended that his work would culminate in a three-volume set titled Die Grundgesetze der Arithmetik (The Basic Laws of Arithmetic), and indeed, the first volume was filled with breathtakingly rigorous axioms and proofs. As the second volume of Basic Laws went to press, however, he received a letter from Russell, politely pointing out a flaw in Frege's logic — now called Russell's paradox — that toppled some aspects of Frege's massive project. After exchanging several letters with Russell, Frege conceded his error, and added a footnote to the second volume, beginning, "Hardly anything more unwelcome can befall a scientific writer than that one of the foundations of his edifice be shaken after the work is finished. I have been placed in this position by a letter of Mr Bertrand Russell...". Following the second volume's publication he withdrew into a lengthy period of depression, and the third volume of Basic Laws was never written. Frege's work, however, remains a major influence on the development of philosophical logic, and he is generally cited as the father of analytic philosophy.

Father: Karl Alexander Frege (school headmaster, b. 3-Aug-1809, d. 30-Nov-1866 typhus)
Mother: Auguste Wilhelmine Sophie Bialloblotzky (b. 12-Jan-1815, d. 14-Oct-1898)
Brother: Cäsar Friedrich Arnold Frege (b. 31-Mar-1852)
Wife: Margarete Lieseberg (m. 1887, d. 1904, one son)
Son: Alfred Frege (adopted, b. 1903, d 15-Jun-1944 kia)

    High School: Wismar Gymnasium, Wismar, Germany
    University: University of Jena (attended, 1869-71)
    University: PhD Geometry and Mathematics, University of Göttingen (1873)
    Lecturer: Mathematics, University of Jena (1873-74)
    Teacher: Mathematics, University of Jena (1874-79)
    Professor: Mathematics, University of Jena (1879-96)

    German Ancestry
    Polish Ancestry Maternal
    Risk Factors: Depression

Author of books:
Begriffsschrift (Conceptual Notation) (1879)
Grundlagen der Arithmetik (The Foundations of Arithmetic) (1884)
Über Sinn und Bedeutung (On Sense and Reference) (1892)
Die Grundgesetze der Arithmetik (Basic Laws of Arithmetic) (1893, Vol. 1)
Die Grundgesetze der Arithmetik (Basic Laws of Arithmetic) (1902, Vol. 2)
Translations from the Philosophical Writings of Gottlob Frege (1952, collected and translated papers)
On the Foundations of Geometry and Formal Theories of Arithmetic (1971, collected and translated papers)



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