Theory of computation
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Computability theory

Computability theory, also called Recursion theory, is a branch of mathematical logic that originated in the 1930s with the study of computable functions and Turing degrees. The field has grown to include the study of generalized computability and definability. In these areas, recursion theory overlaps with proof theory and effective descriptive set theory.

The basic questions addressed by recursion theory are "What does it mean for a function from the natural numbers to themselves to be computable?" and "Can noncomputable functions be classified into a hierarchy based on their level of noncomputability?". The answers to these questions have led to a rich theory that is still being actively researched.

Recursion theorists in mathematical logic often study the theory of relative computability, reducibility notions and degree structures described in this article. This contrasts with the theory of subrecursive hierarchies, formal methods and formal languages that is common in the study of computability theory in computer science. There is considerable overlap in knowledge and methods between these two research communities, however, and no firm line can be drawn between them.

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