During the summer of 1957, Hilary Putnam and I, both junior faculty, were attending an unprecedented month-long “institute” devoted to logic at Cornell University along with 82 other logicians. Our families were sharing a house and the two of us were together every day working together and separately on a number of things, but not on the satisfiability problem. After we had made some progress towards a negative solution of Hilbert’s 10th Problem (H10: the question of the existence of an algorithm for determining whether a given polynomial equation has an integer solution), we were eager to continue collaborating. Our idea was to seek funding through my institution which was a branch of Rensselaer Polytechnic in Eastern Connecticut so Hilary and his family could escape steamy summers in Princeton for the attractive lakeside accommodations available in my locale. Not believing that anyone would pay us to work on H10, considered a super long shot, we patched together a proposal to investigate procedures for theorem-proving in first-order logic. Because it was too late for the usual funding agencies, following a tip we submitted our proposal to the National Security Agency. They funded it on condition that our report not mention them, and that we forget about firstorder logic, and just concentrate on satisfiability. Our report, which was submitted at the end of the summer of 1958, contained all the procedures that were eventually combined in the algorithms later designated as DP and DPLL. During the summer of 1959, we were supported by the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research.We worked very hard on H10 and made some significant progress. But because our proposal had emphasized theorem-proving procedures,we hastily concocted one using some of the work fromthe previous summer, and submitted it to the JACM. That was the origin of Davis-Putnam. After I moved to New York, I wanted to see our procedure implemented, and NYU put two very talented student programmers at my disposal for the purpose: Donald Loveland (who later became one of my first doctoral students) and George Logemann. The crude search we implemented led to satisfiability questions involving thousands of clauses and the original DP swamped the memory of the IBM 704. So we replaced the “rule for eliminating propositional variables” (i.e. ground binary resolution) with the splitting rule giving the algorithm a “divide and conquer” form with instances waiting to be processed swapped out onto a tape. This was the DPLL algorithm.


Integer Solution Propositional Variable Junior Faculty Previous Summer Splitting Rule 
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© Springer Berlin Heidelberg 2007

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  • Martin Davis

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