Jan Łukasiewicz (Polish: [ˈjan wukaˈɕɛvʲitʂ]; 21 December
1878 – 13 February 1956) was a Polish logician and philosopher born
in Lwów, which, before the Polish partitions, was in Poland, Galicia,
then Austria-Hungary. His work centred on philosophical logic,
mathematical logic, and history of logic. He thought innovatively
about traditional propositional logic, the principle of
non-contradiction and the law of excluded middle. Modern work on
Aristotle's logic builds on the tradition started in 1951 with the
establishment by Łukasiewicz of a revolutionary paradigm. The
Łukasiewicz approach was reinvigorated in the early 1970s in a series
of papers by John Corcoran and Timothy Smiley—which inform modern
translations of Prior Analytics by Robin Smith in 1989 and Gisela
Striker in 2009. Łukasiewicz is regarded as one of the most
important historians of logic.
5 Selected works
6 See also
9 Further reading
10 External links
He grew up in
Lwów and was the only child of Paweł Łukasiewicz, a
captain in the Austrian army, and Leopoldina, née Holtzer, the
daughter of a civil servant. His family was Roman Catholic.
He finished his gymnasium studies in philology and in 1897 went on to
Lwów University (which, before the Polish partitions, had been in
Poland), where he studied philosophy and mathematics. He was a pupil
of philosopher Kazimierz Twardowski.
In 1902 he received a Doctor of Philosophy degree under the patronage
of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, who gave him a special doctoral
ring with diamonds.
He spent three years as a private teacher, and in 1905 he received a
scholarship to complete his philosophy studies at the University of
Berlin and the University of Louvain in Belgium.
Łukasiewicz continued studying for his habilitation qualification and
in 1906 submitted his thesis to the University of Lwów. In 1906 he
was appointed a lecturer at the University of
Lwów where he was
eventually appointed Extraordinary Professor by Emperor Franz Joseph
I. He taught there until the First World War.
In 1915 he was invited to lecture as a full professor at the
University of Warsaw
University of Warsaw which had re-opened after being closed down by
the Tsarist government in the 19th century.
In 1919 Łukasiewicz left the university to serve as Polish Minister
of Religious Denominations and Public Education in the Paderewski
government until 1920. Łukasiewicz led the development of a Polish
curriculum replacing the Russian, German and Austrian curricula
previously used in partitioned Poland. The Łukasiewicz curriculum
emphasized the early acquisition of logical and mathematical concepts.
In 1928 he married Regina Barwińska.
He remained a professor at the
University of Warsaw
University of Warsaw from 1920 until
1939 when the family house was destroyed by German bombs and the
university was closed under German occupation. He had been a rector of
the university twice. In this period Łukasiewicz and Stanisław
Leśniewski founded the
Lwów–Warsaw school of logic which was later
made internationally famous by
Alfred Tarski who had been
At the beginning of
World War II
World War II he worked at the
University as part of the secret system of education in
World War II.
He and his wife wanted to move to
Switzerland but couldn't get
permission from the German authorities. Instead, in the summer of
1944, they left
Poland with the help of
Heinrich Scholz and spent the
last few months of the war in Münster, Germany hoping to somehow go
on further, perhaps to Switzerland.
Following the war, he emigrated to Ireland and worked at University
Dublin (UCD) until his death.
Jan Łukasiewicz's papers (post-1945 only) are held by the University
of Manchester Library.
A number of axiomatizations of classical propositional logic are due
to Łukasiewicz. A particularly elegant axiomatization features a mere
three axioms and is still invoked to the present day. He was a pioneer
investigator of multi-valued logics; his three-valued propositional
calculus, introduced in 1917, was the first explicitly axiomatized
non-classical logical calculus. He wrote on the philosophy of science,
and his approach to the making of scientific theories was similar to
the thinking of Karl Popper.
Łukasiewicz invented the
Polish notation (named after his
nationality) for the logical connectives around 1920. There is a
quotation from his paper, Remarks on Nicod's Axiom and on
"Generalizing Deduction", page 180;
"I came upon the idea of a parenthesis-free notation in 1924. I used
that notation for the first time in my article Łukasiewicz(1), p.
The reference cited by Łukasiewicz above is apparently a lithographed
report in Polish. The referring paper by Łukasiewicz Remarks on
Nicod's Axiom and on "Generalizing Deduction", originally published in
Polish in 1931, was later reviewed by H. A. Pogorzelski in the
Journal of Symbolic Logic in 1965.
In Łukasiewicz 1951 book, Aristotle's Syllogistic from the Standpoint
of Modern Formal Logic, he mentions that the principle of his notation
was to write the functors before the arguments to avoid brackets and
that he had employed his notation in his logical papers since 1929.
He then goes on to cite, as an example, a 1930 paper he wrote with
Alfred Tarski on the sentential calculus.
This notation is the root of the idea of the recursive stack, a
last-in, first-out computer memory store proposed by several
researchers including Turing, Bauer and Hamblin, and first implemented
in 1957. In 1960, Łukasiewicz notation concepts and stacks were used
as the basis of the Burroughs B5000 computer designed by Robert S.
Barton and his team at
Burroughs Corporation in Pasadena, California.
The concepts also led to the design of the English Electric
multi-programmed KDF9 computer system of 1963, which had two such
hardware register stacks. A similar concept underlies the reverse
Polish notation (RPN, a postfix notation) of the Friden EC-130
calculator and its successors, many
Hewlett Packard calculators, the
Forth programming language, or the
PostScript page description
In 2008 the Polish Information Processing Society established the Jan
Łukasiewicz Award, to be presented to the most innovative Polish IT
From 1999 to 2004, the Department of Computer Science building at UCD
was called the Łukasiewicz Building, until all campus buildings were
renamed after the disciplines they housed.
1890–1902 studies with
Kazimierz Twardowski in Lemberg (Lwów,
1902 doctorate (mathematics and philosophy), University of Lemberg
with the highest distinction possible
1906 habilitation thesis completed, University of Lemberg
1906 becomes a lecturer
1910 essays on the principle of non-contradiction and the excluded
1911 extraordinary professor at Lemberg
1915 invited to the newly reopened University of Warsaw
1916 new Kingdom of
1917 develops three-valued propositional calculus
1919 Polish Minister of Education
1920–1939 professor at
Warsaw University founds with Stanisław
Lwów–Warsaw school of logic (see also Alfred
Tarski, Stefan Banach, Hugo Steinhaus, Zygmunt Janiszewski, Stefan
1928 marries Regina Barwińska
1944 flees to Germany and settles in Hembsen, in the Nethegau, where
he was brought for his own safety.
1946 exile in Belgium
1946 offered a chair by the Royal Irish Academy, held at University
1953 writes autobiography
1956 dies in Dublin
Łukasiewicz, Jan (1951). Aristotle’s Syllogistic from the
Standpoint of Modern Formal Logic. Oxford University Press. 2nd
Edition, enlarged, 1957. Reprinted by Garland Publishing in 1987.
Łukasiewicz, Jan (1958). Elementy logiki matematycznej (in Polish).
Warsaw, Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe. OCLC 11322101.
Łukasiewicz, Jan (1964) . Elements of Mathematical Logic.
Translated from Polish by Olgierd Wojtasiewicz. New York, Macmillan.
Łukasiewicz, Jan (1970). Ludwik Borkowski, ed. Selected Works.
North-Holland Pub. Co. ISBN 0-7204-2252-3.
Łukasiewicz, Jan (1998). Jacek Jadacki, ed. Logika i metafizyka.
Miscellanea (in Polish). Warsaw, WFiS UW.
1903 "On Induction as Inversion of Deduction"
1906 "Analysis and Construction of the Concept of Cause"
1910 "On Aristotle's Principle of Contradiction"
1913 "On the Reversibility of the Relation of Ground and Consequence"
1920 "On Three-valued Logic"
1921 "Two-valued Logic"
1922 "A Numerical Interpretation of the Theory of Propositions"
1928 "Concerning the Method in Philosophy"
1929 "Elements of Mathematical Logic"
1929 "On Importance and Requirements of Mathematical Logic"
1930 "Philosophical Remarks on Many-Valued Systems of Propositional
1930 "Investigations into the Sentential Calculus" ["Untersuchungen
über den Aussagenkalkül"], with Alfred Tarski
1931 "Comments on Nicod's Axiom and the 'Generalizing Deduction'"
1934 "On Science"
1934 "Importance of Logical Analysis for Knowledge"
1934 "Outlines of the History of the Propositional Logic"
1936 "Logistic and Philosophy"
1937 "In Defense of the Logistic"
1938 "On Descartes's Philosophy"
1943 "The Shortest Axiom of the Implicational Calculus of
1951 "On Variable Functors of Propositional Arguments"
1952 "On the Intuitionistic Theory of Deduction"
1953 "A System of Modal Logic"
1954 "On a Controversial Problem of Aristotle's Modal Syllogistic"
History of philosophy in Poland
List of Poles
^ *Review of "Aristotle, Prior Analytics: Book I, Gisela Striker
(translation and commentary), Oxford UP, 2009, 268pp., $39.95 (pbk),
ISBN 978-0-19-925041-7." in the Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews,
^ Łukasiewicz, Jan, "Uwagi o aksjomacie Nicoda i 'dedukcji
uogólniającej'", ("Remarks on Nicod's Axiom and the "Generalizing
Deduction"), Księga pamiątkowa Polskiego Towarzystwa Filozoficznego,
^ Pogorzelski, H. A., "Reviewed work(s): Remarks on Nicod's Axiom and
on "Generalizing Deduction" by Jan Łukasiewicz; Jerzy Słupecki;
Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe", The Journal of Symbolic Logic, Vol.
30, No. 3 (Sep. 1965), pp. 376–377. This paper by Jan Łukasiewicz
was re-published in
Warsaw in 1961 in a volume edited by Jerzy
Słupecki. It had been published originally in 1931 in Polish.
^ Cf. Łukasiewicz, (1951) Aristotle’s Syllogistic from the
Standpoint of Modern Formal Logic, Chapter IV "Aristotle's System in
Symbolic Form" (section on "Explanation of the Symbolism"), p.78 and
^ Łukasiewicz, Jan; Tarski, Alfred, "Untersuchungen über den
Aussagenkalkül" ["Investigations into the sentential calculus"],
Comptes Rendus des séances de la Société des Sciences et des
Lettres de Varsovie, Vol. 23 (1930) Cl. III, pp. 31–32. This paper
can be found translated into English in Chapter IV "Investigations
into the Sentential Calculus", pp.39-59, in Logic, Semantics,
Metamathematics: Papers from 1923 to 1938 by Alfred Tarski, translated
into English by J.H. Woodger, Oxford University Press, 1956; 2nd
edition, Hackett Publishing Company, 1983
^ "2009 International Multiconference on Computer Science and
Information Technology (IMCSIT)", conference report
"Curriculum Vitae of Jan Łukasiewicz", Rome, Italy: Metalogicon
journal, (1994) VII, 2 (July–December issue).
Craig, Edward (general editor), "Article: Jan Łukasiewicz", Routledge
Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1998, Volume 5, pp. 860–863.
Borkowski, L.; Słupecki, J., "The logical works of J. Łukasiewicz",
Studia Logica 8 (1958), 7–56.
Kotarbiński, T., "Jan Łukasiewicz's works on the history of logic",
Studia Logica 8 (1958), 57–62.
Kwiatkowski, T., "
Jan Łukasiewicz – A historian of logic", Organon
16–17 (1980–1981), 169–188.
Marshall, D., "Łukasiewicz, Leibniz and the arithmetization of the
syllogism", Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 18 (2) (1977),
Seddon, Frederick (1996). Aristotle & Łukasiewicz on the
Principle of Contradiction. Ames, Iowa: Modern Logic Pub.
ISBN 1-884905-04-8. OCLC 37533856.
Woleński, Jan (1994). Philosophical Logic in Poland. Kluwer Academic
Publishers. ISBN 0-7923-2293-2. OCLC 27938071.
Woleński, Jan, "
Jan Łukasiewicz on the Liar Paradox, Logical
Consequence, Truth and Induction", Modern Logic 4 (1994), 394–400.
Simons, Peter. "Jan Lukasiewicz". In Zalta, Edward N. Stanford
Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Jan Łukasiewicz", MacTutor
History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews .
Łukasiewicz entry at Polish Philosophy Page, ed. by F. Coniglione
(University of Catania)
Jan Łukasiewicz at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
ISNI: 0000 0001 2120 9100
BNF: cb12193203s (data)