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On the Unusual Effectiveness of Logic in Computer Science

  • Joseph Y. Halpern (a1), Robert Harper (a2), Neil Immerman (a3), Phokion G. Kolaitis (a4), Moshe Y. Vardi (a5) and Victor Vianu (a6)...

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In 1960, E. P. Wigner, a joint winner of the 1963 Nobel Prize for Physics, published a paper titled On the Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences [61]. This paper can be construed as an examination and affirmation of Galileo's tenet that “The book of nature is written in the language of mathematics”. To this effect, Wigner presented a large number of examples that demonstrate the effectiveness of mathematics in accurately describing physical phenomena. Wigner viewed these examples as illustrations of what he called the empirical law of epistemology, which asserts that the mathematical formulation of the laws of nature is both appropriate and accurate, and that mathematics is actually the correct language for formulating the laws of nature. At the same time, Wigner pointed out that the reasons for the success of mathematics in the natural sciences are not completely understood; in fact, he went as far as asserting that “… the enormous usefulness of mathematics in the natural sciences is something bordering on the mysterious and there is no rational explanation for it.”

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