Piergiorgio Odifreddi

Piergiorgio Odifreddi (born 13 July 1950, in Cuneo) is an Italian mathematician, logician, aficionado of the history of science, and popular science writer and essayist, especially on philosophical atheism as a member of the Italian Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics. He is philosophically and politically near to Bertrand Russell and Noam Chomsky.

Piergiorgio Odifreddi
Piergiorgio Odifreddi, portrait.jpg
Born (1950-07-13) 13 July 1950 (age 71)

Early life and educationEdit

Born in Cuneo in the Piedmont region, he received his Laurea cum laude in mathematics in Turin in 1973. He then specialized in the United States at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and UCLA from 1978 and 1980, and in the Soviet Union at Novosibirsk State University in 1982 and 1983.

Teaching careerEdit

From 1983 to 2007, he taught logic at the University of Turin, and from 1985 to 2003 he was visiting professor at Cornell University, where he collaborated with Anil Nerode, Richard Platek, and Richard Shore. From 2001 to 2003 he taught at Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele, which was founded by Luigi Maria Verzé.[1]

He has been visiting professor at Monash University in Melbourne in 1988, the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing in 1992 and in 1995, the Università di Nanchino in 1998, Buenos Aires University in 2001 and the Italian Academy at Columbia University in 2006.[2]

His main field of research was computability theory, a branch of mathematical logic that studies the class of functions that can be calculated automatically. In this field he has published about thirty articles, and the two-volume book Classical Recursion Theory (North Holland Elsevier, 1989 and 1999), which has become a seminal text on the subject.[3]


He has written editorials and books reviews for La rivista dei libri (the Italian edition of the New York Review of Books), is a regular contributor to Le Scienze (the Italian edition of Scientific American), and has also written for several newspapers such as La Repubblica, La Stampa and the weekly L'Espresso. The television stations Radio Tre, RAI Due and RAI Tre have hosted many of his discussions on various scientific topics.

Political viewsEdit

Odifreddi was heavily influenced by Bertrand Russell and Noam Chomsky.[4] He repeatedly manifested his opposition to US policies, in particular against that of George W. Bush and Israel, as indicated in his writings Non siamo tutti americani,[5] La dannata Terra Santa[6] and the controversial Intervista a Hitler,[7] in his book Il matematico impertinente.

His views on Israel "immodestly inspired" by José Saramago and Noam Chomsky caused protests, which led to the deletion of an editorial he wrote in his blog at la Repubblica on November 2012,[8] where he talked about the Israeli incursion in the Gaza Strip. In protest of the censorship, he decided to close his blog with a bitter post,[9][10] eventually re-opening it years later.

Radio and televisionEdit

Odifreddi had over 400 TV appearances in Italy, the most notable being:

  • 2002 – Chi ha ucciso Fermat?, directed by Vittorio Attamante – 20 episodes on Radio2 for Alle otto della sera.[11]
  • 2004 – Vite da logico, directed by Vittorio Attamante – 20 episodes on Radio2 for Alle otto della sera.[12]
  • 2008 – In Cammino verso Santiago de Compostela, with Sergio Valzania and Franco Cardini – 33 episodes on Radio3 for Il Cammino.[13]
  • 2009 – A tutto Darwin – 5 episodes on Radio3 for Radio3 scienza, with interviews to Dario Fo.[14]
  • 2009 – Buon compleanno, Darwin!, directed by Caterina Olivetti – 20 episodes on Radio2 for Alle otto della sera.[15]
  • 2009 – A tutto Galileo – 5 episodes on Radio3 for Radio3 scienza, with interviews to Roberto Benigni[16] and Riccardo Giacconi.[17]

Other activitiesEdit

Piergiorgio Odifreddi participated in the Stock Exchange of Visions project in 2007.



Academic writingsEdit

  • Classical recursion Theory, North Holland – Elsevier, 1988, ISBN 9780080886596; 2nd edn. 1992, ISBN 0-444-89483-7[18]
  • Classical recursion Theory. Volume II, North Holland – Elsevier, 1999

Popular writingsEdit


  1. ^ Interview with Piergiorgio Odifreddi on Wikinews
  2. ^ Il Non-Senso della vita – Blog di Piergiorgio Odifreddi
  3. ^ The number of citations in the first volume in scientific articles, according toCiteSeerX estimates, exceeds 200, while[https://scholar.google.fr/scholar?cites=151900171738493333341671 Google Scholar estimates) exceeds 1,200. The two works are also listed in[http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/recursive-functions/#Bib bibliographic notes of the entry Recursive Functions of the "Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy".
  4. ^ Odifreddi interviews Noam Chomsky
  5. ^ No al terrorismo. Ma quale?
  6. ^ La dannata Terra Santa
  7. ^ Interview with Adolf Hitler
  8. ^ «Dieci volte peggio dei nazisti» — The censored articled on Repubblica Archived 2014-02-19 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ 809 giorni di libertà – Il non-senso della vita 2.0 – Blog – Repubblica.it
  10. ^ Repubblica cancella il post di Odifreddi su Israele. Lui lascia: “Meglio fermarsi”. Il Fatto Quotidiano, Novembre 20, 2012.
  11. ^ Radio Due Archived 2007-05-04 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Radio Due Archived 2007-05-04 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Radio 3 – Il cammino Archived 2009-11-27 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Radio 3 Archived 2011-07-14 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Radio 2 Archived 2009-06-20 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Radio 3 Archived 2011-07-14 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Radio 3 Archived 2009-12-01 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ Shoenfield, J. R. (1993). "Review: Classical recursion theory by P. Odifreddi" (PDF). Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. (N.S.). 28 (1): 182–183. doi:10.1090/s0273-0979-1993-00346-x.

External linksEdit