version 31 October, 2009

text of Lyndon Symposium after dinner speech (June 26, 1987) will go here | |

photos here |
Late in December, 2000, the New York Times reported the death of the logician W. V. Quine, who did important work on the foundations of mathematics. This reminded me of a good story about our former colleague, Roger Lyndon (deceased, 1988). When Roger was a student at Harvard, he got interested in Quine's work, taking a course in 1941. Roger studied Quine's book, Mathematical Logic (Norton, 1940) and found a problem. He wrote to Quine, sending his deduction of the Burali-Forti paradox in Quine's system. That letter was dated November 24, 1941. About the same time, Barclay Rosser, then at Cornell, found the same paradox and acknowledged Roger's independent discovery in his article submitted November 29, 1941. This point attracted quite some attention at that time. I was not around in 1941, but know the story since I did research for a dinner speech at the Lyndon conference in Ann Arbor, June 1987. Saunders MacLane gave me the above story and a copy of the Lyndon letter. |