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Computability theory originated with the seminal work of Gdel, Church, Turing,

Kleene and Post in the 1930s. This theory includes a wide spectrum of topics, such
as the theory of reducibilities and their degree structures, computably enumerable
sets and their automorphisms, and subrecursive hierarchy classifications. Recent
work in computability theory has focused on Turing definability and promises to
have far-reaching mathematical, scientific, and philosophical consequences.
Written by a leading researcher, Computability Theory provides a concise,
comprehensive, and authoritative introduction to contemporary computability
theory, techniques, and results. The basic concepts and techniques of computability
theory are placed in their historical, philosophical and logical context. This
presentation is characterized by an unusual breadth of coverage and the inclusion
of advanced topics not to be found elsewhere in the literature at this level.
The book includes both the standard material for a first course in computability and
more advanced looks at degree structures, forcing, priority methods, and
determinacy. The final chapter explores a variety of computability applications to
mathematics and science.
Computability Theory is an invaluable text, reference, and guide to the direction of
current research in the field. Nowhere else will you find the techniques and results
of this beautiful and basic subject brought alive in such an approachable and lively
way.

Computability theory, also called recursion theory, is a branch of mathematical logic, of


computer science, and of the theory of computation that originated in the 1930s with the study of
computable functions and Turing degrees.
The basic questions addressed by recursion theory are "What does it mean for a function on the
natural numbers to be computable?" and "How can noncomputable functions be classified into a
hierarchy based on their level of noncomputability?". The answers to these questions have led to
a rich theory that is still being actively researched. The field has since grown to include the study
of generalized computability and definability. Remarkably, the invention of the central
combinatorial object of recursion theory, namely the Universal Turing Machine, predates and
predetermines the invention of modern computers. Historically, the study of algorithmically
undecidable sets and functions was motivated by various problems in mathematics that turned to
be undecidable; for example, word problem for groups and the like. There are several
applications of the theory to other branches of mathematics that do not necessarily concentrate
on undecidability. The early applications include the celebrated Higman's embedding theorem
that provides a link between recursion theory and group theory, results of Michael O. Rabin and
Anatoly Maltsev on algorithmic presentations of algebras, and the negative solution to Hilbert's
Tenth Problem. The more recent applications include algorithmic randomness, results of Soare et
al. who applied recursion-theoretic methods to solve a problem in algebraic geometry, and the
very recent work of Slaman et al. on normal numbers that solves a problem in analytic number
theory.

Recursion theory overlaps with proof theory, effective descriptive set theory, model theory, and
abstract algebra. Arguably, computational complexity theory is a child of recursion theory; both
theories share the same technical tool, namely the Turing Machine. Recursion theorists in
mathematical logic often study the theory of relative computability, reducibility notions and
degree structures described in this article. This contrasts with the theory of subrecursive
hierarchies, formal methods and formal languages that is common in the study of computability
theory in computer science. There is a considerable overlap in knowledge and methods between
these two research communities; however, no firm line can be drawn between them. For
instance, parametrized complexity was invented by a complexity theorist Michael Fellows and a
recursion theorist Rod Downey.

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