Feferman, Solomon 1928-

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Feferman, Solomon 1928-


Born December 13, 1928, in New York, NY; married Anita Burdman (a writer). Education: California Institute of Technology, B.S., 1948; University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D., 1957.


Office—Stanford University, Department of Mathematics, Bldg. 380, Room 383-Z, Stanford, CA 94305-2125; fax: 650-725-4066. E-mail—[email protected].


Professor and writer. Stanford University, Stanford, CA, instructor, 1956-58, assistant professor, 1958-62, associate professor, 1962-68, professor, 1968-2003, emeritus professor of mathematics and philosophy, 2004—, Patrick Suppes Family Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, 1993-2003, department of mathematics, chairman, 1985-1992; Stanford Research Institute, consultant, 1958-1963; Massachusetts Institute of Technology, visiting associate professor, 1967-68. Military service: U.S. Army, 1953-55.


National Science Foundation (NSF) postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University, 1969-60; NSF senior postdoctoral fellow, University of Paris and University of Amsterdam, 1964-65; Guggenheim fellow, University of Oxford and University of Paris, 1972-73; visiting fellow at All Souls and Wolfson Colleges, University of Oxford, 1979-1980; Guggenheim fellow, Stanford University, ETH Zürich, University of Rome, 1986-87; fellow, Stanford Humanities Center, 1989-1990; elected fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1990; fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, 1995-96; University of California at Irvine Chancellor's Distinguished Fellow, 1999; Mittag-Leffler Institute fellow, 2001; Rolf Schock Prize in Logic and Philosophy, 2003.


The Number Systems: Foundations of Algebra and Analysis, Addison-Wesley (Reading, MA), 1964, 2nd edition, Chelsea Publishing (New York, NY), 1989.

(Editor, with J. Barwise) Model-Theoretic Logics, Springer-Verlag (New York, NY), 1985.

(Editor, with others) Kurt Gödel, Collected Works: Kurt Gödel, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1986.

(Editor) The Collected Works of Julia Robinson, American Mathematical Society (Providence, RI), 1996.

In the Light of Logic, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Reflections on the Foundations of Mathematics: Essays in Honor of Solomon Feferman, edited by Wilfried Sieg, Richard Sommer, and Carolyn Talcott, Association for Symbolic Logic (Urbana, IL), 2002.

(With wife, Anita Burdman Feferman) Alfred Tarski: Life and Logic (biography), Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2004.

Contributor to academic journals.


Solomon Feferman is a faculty member at Stanford University, where he has been a professor of mathematics and philosophy since 1956. Over the years, he has been the recipient of multiple fellowships and awards for his academic accomplishments, including Sweden's Rolf Schock Prize in Logic and Philosophy for his work in the arithmetization of metamathematics, transfinite progressions of theories, and predicativity. Feferman has also written and edited several books on logic and mathematics and some of the greatest minds of the twentieth century in these disciplines, including Kurt Gödel and Alfred Tarski.

Feferman worked as editor-in-chief on the multivolume Collected Works: Kurt Gödel, published in 1986. Mind reviewer Richard Tieszen believed that "the publication of these volumes marks a major event in the history of logic and the foundations of mathematics. The material included in the volumes not only presents us with a picture of the great scope, depth, and significance of Gödel's accomplishments, but it will also open up new avenues of thought and research for future generations of logicians, mathematicians, philosophers, computer scientists and others who will find Gödel's ideas on various subjects to be of substantial interest."

Considered by many as one of the greatest logicians of the twentieth century, Alfred Tarski is the subject of the 2004 book, Alfred Tarski: Life and Logic, which Feferman wrote with his wife. Born in 1901 in Warsaw, Poland, into a middle-class Jewish family, Tarski traveled to the United States in August 1939 to pursue a career in academics, leaving behind his wife, son, and daughter. He also left behind his last name (which was originally Teitelbaum) and his Jewish identity (Tarski converted to Catholicism). Upon arriving in America, he struggled to find work until finally ending up at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1942, where he taught for the duration of his career. Tarski was instrumental in turning Berkeley into one of the premiere universities for the study of logic. After WWII, Tarski's wife and children were able to join him in California. Although considered by many to be a charismatic teacher, he was known for being notoriously demanding (bordering on abusive), especially with his graduate students. He was also known for his indiscreet extramarital involvements with many of his female students, which is well documented in the Fefermans' biography.

Many critics praised the Fefermans' work on Tarski's biography. According to Martin Davis in his review of the book for American Scientist, "his was a fascinating life, and the new biography Alfred Tarski … covers it all. The authors are exceptionally well qualified to tell his story: Solomon Feferman, who was one of Tarski's doctoral students in the 1950s and is now on the faculty at Stanford … and independent scholar and writer Anita Burdman Feferman … also knew Tarski well. The Fefermans … were personally acquainted with many of the people they write about here, and they have obtained some remarkably intimate information. The book is beautifully written and a pleasure to read on a number of levels." The Fefermans' "look into the life and work of Alfred Tarski and his impact, both scientifically and emotionally on the people who knew him, is well written, well rounded and well done. It is a valuable contribution to the growing genre of mathematical biographies of substance," observed Amy Shell-Gellasch in her review of the book on the Mathematical Association of America Web site. A contributor who reviewed the book on the Brown University Web site, noted the fact that while reading the book "you sense the authors wrote sections independently; unfortunately their accomplished editor didn't pull out the various bits of repetition and redundancy." However, among other praise, the reviewer also felt that "they do an excellent job of painting each milieu that Tarski found himself in, performing excellent historical scholarship to unearth his Polish days and then painting a superb portrait of the transformation of Berkeley." "Reading Tarski's journals and publications, mining many archives, interviewing dozens and dozens of people, and traveling to Poland to visit original sites, the Fefermans have put together a story that is detailed and personal. They have painted a splendid portrait, Cromwellian warts and all, of an extraordinary individual," commended Philip J. Davis in his review of the book on the Society for Industrial & Applied Mathematics Web site.



American Mathematical Monthly, April, 2006, Carol Wood, review of Alfred Tarski: Life and Logic, p. 377.

American Scientist, March 1, 2005, Martin Davis, "The Man Who Defined Truth," p. 175.

Biography, fall, 2005, Martin Davis, review of Alfred Tarski.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, May, 2005, J. Mayer, review of Alfred Tarski, p. 1610.

Isis, September, 2002, Louise Golland, review of Collected Works: Kurt Gödel, p. 517; March, 2004, Albert C. Lewis, review of Kurt Gödel, p. 162; June, 2006, Thomas Oberdan, review of Alfred Tarski, p. 362.

Journal of Philosophy, December, 1999, Jeremy Avigad, review of In the Light of Logic, p. 638.

Mind, January, 1998, Richard Tieszen, review of Kurt Gödel, p. 219.

Reference & Research Book News, May, 2005, review of Alfred Tarski, p. 289.

Science, July 4, 1986, Katherine Livingston, review of Kurt Gödel, p. 115.

SciTech Book News, June, 2005, review of Alfred Tarski, p. 15.

Times Higher Education Supplement, March 15, 1996, Ray Monk, review of Kurt Gödel, p. 26; February 25, 2005, "A Bulldozer Who Helped Dig Out Truth," p. 26.


Brown University Web site,http://www.cs.brown.edu/ (February 14, 2008), review of Alfred Tarski.

Mathematical Association of America,http://www.maa.org/ (July 5, 2005), Amy Shell-Gellasch, review of Alfred Tarski.

Society for Industrial & Applied Mathematics,http://www.siam.org/ (March 1, 2005), Philip J. Davis, review of Alfred Tarski.

Stanford University Department of Mathematics Web site,http://math.stanford.edu/ (February 1, 2008), Feferman curriculum vitae.