Continuity, randomness and the Oracle

Flipping through some New Scientist issues from this past year, I was reminded of an article in their July 19 issue that brought together a discussion of the brain and mathematics with particular emphasis on the effectiveness of employing the sometimes counter-intuitive notion of the infinity of the real numbers. The content of the article, […]

A mathematical philosophy – a digital view

I’ve become fascinated with Gregory Chaitin’s exploration of randomness in computing and his impulse to bring these observations to bear on physical, mathematical, and biological theories. His work inevitably addresses epistemological questions – what it means to know, to comprehend – and leads him to move (as he says in a recent paper) in the […]

The mathematics of common sense

I will be joining a few colleagues for a symposium at CogSci2014 and I’ve been gathering some notes for my talk. The talk will focus on the impact of embodiment theories on a philosophy of mathematics. As I looked again at some of the things I’ve chosen to highlight in my blogs, I came upon […]

Thinking as a churning, swarming activity

The Atlantic Monthly just did an interesting piece on Douglas Hofstadter, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Gödel, Bach and Escher. Hofstadter’s 1979 book investigates the nature of human thought processes by looking at common themes in the work of the mathematician Gödel, the musician Bach and the artist Escher. In particular, it addresses the question of […]

Quantum Mechanical Words and Mathematical Organisms

My post appeared on the Scientific American Guest Blog this morning. Here’s the link:

Quantum Mechanical Words and Mathematical Organisms

Chaitin, creativity, biology and mathematics

I was looking today, once again, at Gregory Chaitin’s most recent work which is described in his book Proving Darwin. I realized that much of what has been written about this work (even what I have written) doesn’t give adequate attention to the crucial shifts in perspective that metabiology proposes. Chaitin says concisely:

According to […]

Kurzweil’s How to Create a Mind, and mathematics

I listened last week to Diane Rehm’s interview with Ray Kurzweil, author of the book “How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed” A transcript of the interview can be found here.

Published in mid-November, it is already a New York Times bestseller, and some of the responses to it from prominent […]

Compression, meaning, and mathematics

One of the more interesting applications of algorithmic action can be seen in Jürgen Schmidhuber’s work on artificial curiosity.

Schmidhuber has been building what he calls ‘artificial scientists and artists’ that possess an algorithmic mechanism for motivating invention. He provides a brief and fairly straightforward description of his creative machines in the transcript of a […]

Spider webs and a random walk in software space

Yesterday I happened upon a Huffington Post blog from Mario Livio. For anyone who has been following my blog, it will come as no surprise that this piece, about the surprising similarity between spider webs and computer generated cosmic webs, caught my attention. After showing us a few, Livio says:

For an astrophysicist, perhaps the […]

Turing, bombs, and the nervous system

When I first became interested in studying mathematics an artist friend of mine expressed his disapproval by characterizing mathematicians as people who made bombs. Although I didn’t know very much mathematics at the time, I knew enough to know that he was wrong. But I was reminded today of one of the ways his mistake […]