The umbilical cord of finite model theory

Yuri Gurevich, The Logic in Computer Science Column by Yuri Gurevich


Model theory was born and developed as a part of mathematical logic. It has
various application domains but is not beholden to any of them. A priori, the research
area known as finite model theory would be just a part of model theory but didn’t turn
out that way. There is one application domain — relational database management —
that finite model theory had been beholden to during a substantial early period when
databases provided the motivation and were the main application target for finite model
Arguably, finite model theory was motivated even more by complexity theory. But
the subject of this paper is how relational database theory influenced finite model theory.
This is NOT a scholarly history of the subject with proper credits to all participants.
My original intent was to cover just the developments that I witnessed or participated
in. The need to make the story coherent forced me to cover some additional developments.

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