Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

On the calculus of relations

  • Alfred Tarski (a1)

The logical theory which is called the calculus of (binary) relations, and which will constitute the subject of this paper, has had a strange and rather capricious line of historical development. Although some scattered remarks regarding the concept of relations are to be found already in the writings of medieval logicians, it is only within the last hundred years that this topic has become the subject of systematic investigation. The first beginnings of the contemporary theory of relations are to be found in the writings of A. De Morgan, who carried out extensive investigations in this domain in the fifties of the Nineteenth Century. De Morgan clearly realized the inadequacy of traditional logic for the expression and justification, not merely of the more intricate arguments of mathematics and the sciences, but even of simple arguments occurring in every-day life; witness his famous aphorism, that all the logic of Aristotle does not permit us, from the fact that a horse is an animal, to conclude that the head of a horse is the head of an animal. In his effort to break the bonds of traditional logic and to expand the limits of logical inquiry, he directed his attention to the general concept of relations and fully recognized its significance. Nevertheless, De Morgan cannot be regarded as the creator of the modern theory of relations, since he did not possess an adequate apparatus for treating the subject in which he was interested, and was apparently unable to create such an apparatus. His investigations on relations show a lack of clarity and rigor which perhaps accounts for the neglect into which they fell in the following years.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Die Vollständigkeit der Axiome des logischen Funktionenkalküls, Monatshefte für Mathematik und Physik, vol. 37 (1930), pp. 349360

The theory of representations for Boolean algebras, Transactions of the American Mathematical Society, vol. 40 (1936), pp. 37111

L. Löwenheim , über Möglichkeiten im Relativkalkül, Mathematische Annalen, vol. 76 (1915), pp. 447470

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Journal of Symbolic Logic
  • ISSN: 0022-4812
  • EISSN: 1943-5886
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-symbolic-logic
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *