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org/epigone/math-history-list/smixsmeeblu Subject: Ackermann vs. Sudan function: priority of discovery [was:Ackermann - or Budan or ?] Author: Bill Dubuque <firstname.lastname@example.org> Organization: MIT Date: Fri, 12 Sep 1997 08:09:48 -0400 The following message is a courtesy copy of an article that has been posted as well. email@example.com ( JOHN MCKAY ) writes: | | Can someone assess who originated the so-called "Ackermann fn" ? | It appears it may not be Ackermann. Cristian Calude has written a number of papers on the history of the Ackermann and Sudan functions, e.g. see Calude, Cristian; Marcus, Solomon; \cedla Tevy, Ionel The first example of a recursive function which is not primitive recursive. Historia Math. 6 (1979), no. 4, 380--384. MR 80i:03053 03D20 01A60 Chronologically, Sudan's function is the first example of a recursive but not primitive recursive function (Bull. Math. Soc. Roumaine Sci. 30 (1927), 11 - 30; Jbuch 53, 171). Ackermann's work was published slightly later (Math. Ann. 99 (1928), 118 - 133; Jbuch 54, 56). Both were students of Hilbert, and were working on a problem posed by Hilbert, and were acquainted with each other's work. Sudan's function extends to ordinals and majorizes Ackermann's function (except at a single point). As Smorynski says in his book Logical Number Theory independently, to two of Hilbert's students, Wilhelm Ackermann and Gabriel Sudan. Although they gave essentially the same recursion, Sudan worked with functions of transfinite ordinals and Ackermann with functions of natural numbers, whence Hilbert cited Ackermann and Ackermann's is the name associated with the resulting functions. The paper cited above also has speculations as to why Hilbert and Bernays did not mention Sudan's construction. According to MR 82k:03061, Sudan's function is as follows F (x, y) = x+y 0
F (x, 0) = x n+1 F (x, y+1) = F ( F (x, y), F (x, y)+y+1 ) n+1 n n+1 n+1 By the way, an excellent forum for mathematical history is firstname.lastname@example.org -- which includes many professional math historians. I've CC'ed math-history-list. -Bill Dubuque