Universiteit van Amsterdam

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Professor Frits Staal passed away February 19th

The eminent Indologist and Sanskrit scholar Frits Staal passed away on February 19 at his retirement home in Thailand. Among his several distinguished academic positions, Frits was a long-time faculty member of UC Berkeley's Group in Logic and the Methodology of Science, created by Alfred Tarski.

'The Hindu' newspaper writes:

"Staal argued that ancient Indian grammarians, especially Panini, had completely mastered methods of linguistic theory not discovered again until the 1950s. The Indians had thought about it long before modern mathematical logic was applied to linguistics by Noam Chomsky.
The early methods allowed the construction of discrete, potentially infinite generative systems, experts maintain. The formal basis for Panini's methods involves the use of auxiliary markers, rediscovered in the 1930s by logician Emil Post, whose rewrite systems are currently a standard approach for description of computer languages, experts say.
Staal wrote, 'Panini is the Indian Euclid.' The Indologist describes how Panini had expanded the spoken Sanskrit to a formal metalanguage."

The complete piece is at http://www.thehindu.com/news/states/kerala/article2913333.ece

Please note that this newsitem has been archived, and may contain outdated information or links.