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Joseph Robert Shoenfield (1927, Detroit – November 15, 2000, Durham, North Carolina) was an American mathematical logician.

Joseph Robert Shoenfield
Born Detroit, Michigan, US
Died November 15, 2000(2000-11-15) (aged 73)
Durham, North Carolina, US
Residence United States
Alma mater University of Michigan
Known for Shoenfield absoluteness theorem
Awards Gödel Lecturer (1992)
Scientific career
Fields Mathematical logic
Institutions Duke University
Thesis Models of Formal Systems (1953)
Doctoral advisor Raymond Louis Wilder[1]



Shoenfield obtained his PhD in 1953 with Raymond Louis Wilder at the University of Michigan (Models of formal systems).


From 1952, he lectured at Duke University, where he remained until becoming Emeritus in 1992. From 1970 to 1973 he was President of the Mathematics Faculty. In 1956/57 he was at the Institute for Advanced Study. Shoenfield worked on recursion theory, model theory and axiomatic set theory. His textbook on mathematical logic has become a classic.[2]


From 1972 to 1976 he was president of the Association for Symbolic Logic. He delivered the Gödel Lecture at the 1992 meeting of the ASL.[3]


Already in his student days, he was a passionate and strong contract bridge player. He was an early member Number 694 of the American Go Association and the Memorial Tournament in North Carolina was founded in his memory. (The link includes a photograph of him.)

Selected publicationsEdit

  • Mathematical Logic, Addison Wesley 1967, 2nd edition, Association for Symbolic Logic, 2001[4]
  • Degrees of unsolvability, North Holland Mathematical Studies 1971
  • Recursion theory, Springer 1993[5]