Rozsa Peter

Founder of Recursive Function Theory

Who is Rózsa Péter?

Rózsa was born Rózsa Politzer in Budapest, Hungary on February 17, 1905, and died on February 16, 1977. She later changed her name to Péter. She is considered one of the founders of the recursive function theory of mathematics.

Her Early Life and Education

She initially studied chemistry but switched to mathematics while attending the Pázmány Péter University (now known as Eötvös Loránd University), Rózsa graduated in 1927, but she was unable to find work because of the Depression, so she started working as a tutor. Five years later, she presented a paper to the International Congress of Mathematicians on recursive theory entitled, “Rekursive Funktionen” based on Kurt Gödel’s theory of incompleteness.

Rózsa Péter was the first Hungarian woman to receive a Ph.D., which she received summa cum laude, in 1935. 

Her Contributions to Science

Many of Rozsa’s works were pivotally important in math and computer science. She published the first book on modern logic by a female author called Rekursive Funktionen in 1951. Then, later in that decade, she published a paper applying her theories to Computer Science. Rekursive Funktionen in der Komputer-Theorie (Recursive Functions in Computer Theory) was published in the Soviet Union and later translated into English in 1981.

Her Legacy

Ms. Péter was recognized many times for her work. She received the Kossuth Prize, which is given in Hungary to acknowledge “outstanding personal and group achievements in the fields of science, culture and the arts,” the Manó Beke Prize, the Silver State Prize, and the Gold State Prize.  She was also elected to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, a prestigious organization that represents Hungarian scientific achievements around the world.

Learn more about Rózsa Péter from Wikipedia

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