Paul Cohen (mathematician)

Paul Joseph Cohen ( born April 2, 1934 in Long Branch, New Jersey, USA, † March 23, 2007 in Stanford ( California)) was an American logician and mathematician. He was winner of the Fields Medal.

Life and work

Cohen attended until 1950, the Stuyvesant High School in New York City, then the Brooklyn College in New York until 1953, returning home to study at the University of Chicago, where he in 1958 Antoni Zygmund with a theme about trigonometric series ( uniqueness theorems for Fourier series ) doctorate. 1958/59 he was at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as a Moore Instructor and from 1959 to 1961 at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. In 1961 he went to Stanford University in California, where he became professor in 1964.

He developed in 1963 the so-called " forcing" - or " Erzwingungs " method, with which he could prove that the continuum hypothesis is not with the usual axioms of mathematics, set theory ZFC axioms (see Zermelo -Fraenkel set theory ) is provable. Along with Kurt Gödel, who showed with his konstruktiblem universe that the continuum hypothesis from the ZFC axioms is refutable, Cohen has found such a response to the first Hilbert problem.

The forcing method is still in the set theory, the most important basis for independence results ( ie for evidence to show the unprovability of mathematical statements ).

In addition, he also worked on partial differential equations and measure theory.

For his work, Cohen was awarded the Fields Medal in 1966, as in 1964 the Bôcher Memorial Prize awarded him.

His doctoral Peter Sarnak counts.