Logicism and the Development of Computer Science

  • Donald Gillies
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 2408)


This paper argues for the thesis that ideas originating in the philosophy of mathematics have proved very helpful for the development of computer science. In particular, logicism, the view that mathematics can be reduced to logic, was developed by Frege and Russell, long before computers were invented, and yet many of the ideas of logicism have been central to computer science. The paper attempts to explain how this serendipity came about. It also applies Wittgenstein’s later theory of meaning to human-computer interaction, and draws the conclusion that computers do understand the meaning of the symbols they process. The formal language of logic is suitable for humans trying to communicate with computers.


Formal System Classical Logic Type Theory Ordinary Language Inductive Logic Programming 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donald Gillies
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyKing’s CollegeLondonUK

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