


Truth tables are representations in which all possible values of the truth of combinations of elements (e.g. the combination p·q ) is given as a function of the possible truth values of the elements from which the combination is computed. That is, if p and q can only be true or false, then the truth table for p·q would give its truth value for each of the four possible combinations of p and q truth values:
p

q

p·q

1

1

1

1

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

Truth tables, were established in the literature in the early 1920s (Post, 1921; Wittgenstein, 1922), but were likely in use much earlier. There is evidence that Bertrand Russell and his then student Ludwig Wittgenstein were using truth tables as early as 1910 (Shosky, 1997). It has also been argued Charles Peirce and his students probably were using truth tables as early as 1902 (Anellis, 2004). For instance, Peirce’s student Christine Ladd produced what is in essence a truth table for all 16 possible Boolean operators on two variables in an 1883 paper.
References:
 Anellis, I. (2004). The genesis of the truthtable device. Russell: The Journal of Bertrand Russell Studies, 24, 5570.
 Post, E. L. (1921). Introduction to a general theory of elementary propositions. American Journal of Mathematics, 43, 163185.
 Shosky, J. (1997). Russell's use of truth tables. Russell: The Journal of the Bertrand Russell Archives, 17(1), 1126.
 Wittgenstein, L. (1922). Tractatus logicophilosophicus. New York: Harcourt, Brace & company.
(Added September 2010)



