Hilbert, David (1862–1943)
At the Paris International Congress of 1900, Hilbert proposed 23 outstanding problems in mathematics to whose solutions he believed twentieth-century mathematicians should devote themselves. These problems have come to be known as Hilbert's problems, and a number still remain unsolved today. Hilbert's mathematical philosophy is partly revealed by a couple remarks, one of which he made after learning that a student in his class had dropped the subject in order to become a poet. "Good," he said. "He did not have enough imagination to become a mathematician." Whether he really believed the second is open to question: "Mathematics is a game played according to certain simple rules with meaningless marks on paper."
Hilbert's dream was that it would be possible to prove or disprove all mathematical questions starting with only one set of well-defined rules and assumptions. In 1931 Kurt Gödel showed that this could not be achieved.
Related category• MATHEMATICIANS
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