Logic, Computability and Formal Systems

  • Mark PriestleyEmail author
Part of the History of Computing book series (HC)


The work of Comrie and others demonstrated the benefits that could be obtained from even a partial automation of the processes of scientific computation. Human input was still required in order to control operations and to ensure that steps in a calculation were performed in the right order and with the right data, but increasingly all that was required was the ability to perform routine labour which involved little skill or initiative. During the 1930s, the extent to which even this residual human agency could be replaced by machines began to be investigated more systematically, both in theory and in practice. This chapter describes the various accounts of mechanical computation, or effective computability, constructed by mathematical logicians in the mid-1930s, and the associated account of formal languages, which made concrete the idea of a notation that could be processed mechanically, and so by extension could be read and interpreted by actual machines.


Turing Machine Formal Language Recursive Function Atomic Formula Standard Description 
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© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LondonUK

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