Martin Davis (mathematician)

American mathematician (1928–2023)

Martin David Davis (March 8, 1928January 1, 2023) was an American mathematician, known for his work on Hilbert's tenth problem. In 2012 he was elected a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society.

Martin Davis in 2012


  • A partially computable function may be thought of as one for which we possess an algorithm which enables us to compute its value for elements of its domain, but which will have us computing forever in attempting to obtain a functional value for an element not in its domain, without ever assuring us that no value is forthcoming. In other words, when an answer is forthcoming, the algorithm provides it; when no answer is forthcoming, the algorithm has one spend an infinite amount of time in a vain search for an answer.
  • Nonstandard analysis is a technique rather a subject. Aside from theorems that tell us that nonstandard notions are equivalent to corresponding standard notions, all the results we obtain can be proved by standard methods. Therefore, the subject can only be claimed to be of importance insofar as it leads to simpler, more accessible expositions, or (more important) to mathematical discoveries.
  • Takeuti has studied models of axiomatic set theory in which the “truth values” are elements of a complete Boolean algebra of projections on closed subspaces of a Hilbert space, and has found that the real numbers of such a model can be taken to be self-adjoint operators which can be resolved in terms of projections belonging to the Boolean algebra. It is suggested that this is the mathematical source of the replacement of real quantities by operators in quantizing a classical description, and that quantum theory involves a relativity principle with Takeuti's Boolean algebras serving as reference “frames.”
  • The analysis of algorithmic process that emerged from the work of Gödel, Church, Turing, and Post has been of great importance not only for theoretical investigations but also for practice, by providing an expansive framework for computer science. The discussion of computation-like processes that transcend the limits imposed by the Church–Turing thesis can likewise be framed either in terms of theory or of practice.

Quotes about Martin Davis

  • Davis became one of the earliest computer programmers when he began programming on the ORDVAC computer at the University of Illinois in the early 1950s. His book Computability and Unsolvability ... first appeared in 1958 and has become a classic in theoretical computer science.