Leading Mathematics and Computer Sciences Researcher Wins Prestigious Award

May 16, 2012 | Lehman College

Professor Melvin Fitting

Lehman College Professor Melvin Fitting will receive the Herbrand Award for his groundbreaking contribution to the field of automated theorem proving, which focuses on getting computer programs to prove logical and mathematical deductions.

Prof. Fitting, a member of the mathematics and computer science faculty at Lehman, will receive the award in Manchester, N.Y., on June 26 at the International Joint Conference on Automated Reasoning (CADE), a major forum dedicated to automated deduction. CADE Inc. established the recognition in 1992 to honor exceptional contributions to the automated reasoning field.

“It’s very satisfying to find that my work has been influential,” Prof. Fitting says. “My research is in logic, which is why I get split across departments. CUNY has one of the best collections of logicians in the world.”

At 70, Prof. Fitting is one of the pioneers and leading researchers of what are called tableau methods, which were applied to computers and have since become a standard item in the field of automated reasoning. His research has also been used to create semantics for certain programming languages.

Automatic theorems make it possible to build software that can process and deduct new facts based on the available data. They help machines recognize mathematical theorems, formulate hypotheses and research them autonomously. This knowledge can also be applied to the behavior of computer systems.

Prof. Fitting wrote and co-wrote numerous top books on the subject, including First-Order Logic and Automated Theorem Proving, a very popular textbook for graduate-level researchers working in the areas of logic and mathematics. He started teaching at Lehman College in 1968 and has taught at the CUNY Graduate Center for many years.

According to Franz Baader, president of CADE Inc., the Conference wishes to honor Prof. Fitting’s “outstanding contributions to tableau-based theorem proving in classical and non-classical logics, as well as to many other areas of automated reasoning, logic programming, and philosophical logic. ”

Prof. Fitting plans to retire from teaching at the end of the semester and spend the summer and early fall traveling and giving talks in Europe, Taiwan and Japan. He intends to concentrate on his primary research on justification logics, as well as his two new grandchildren, and continue to participate in seminars and conferences at the CUNY Graduate Center.