Gerald Sacks

Gerald Sacks

Gerald Sacks is a logician who holds a joint appointment at Harvard University as a Professor of Mathematical Logic and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a Professor Emeritus. His most important contributions have been in recursion theory. Named after him is Sacks forcing, a forcing notion based on perfect sets and the Sacks Density Theorem, which asserts that the partial order of the recursively enumerable Turing degrees is dense.

Sacks earned his Ph.D. in 1961 from Cornell University under the direction of J. Barkley Rosser, with a dissertation entitled "On Suborderings of Degrees of Recursive Insolvability". Among his notable students are Harvey Friedman, Leo Harrington, Richard Shore, and Theodore Slaman. A distinctive characteristic of his logic classes was that in the middle of each class, a previously selected student would have to get up and tell a joke. The joke had to be short, funny, and inoffensive to receive credit.

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