The Institute Letter Summer 2009

Computational Intractability and Pseudorandomness

The areas of computational intractability and pseudorandomness  have been among the most exciting scientific disciplines in the past decades, with...

It was two generations ago that Bertrand Russell composed his single-sentence history of the world. “Since Adam and Eve ate the apple,” he wrote, “mankind has never refrained from any folly of which it was capable.” Experts were especially...

Western Biblical scholarship has existed as a historical enterprise independent from church and synagogue as far back as the eighteenth century. Western study of the Qurʾān, however, has more recent roots, with interest taking hold in the early...

About a year ago the China News Agency announced that it would unveil a national plan for implementing human rights in 2009. Admitting that there had been mistakes in the past, and that China still faced challenges to an adequate human rights...

What explains “the unreasonable effectiveness” of mathematics, as the late Princeton University physicist Eugene Wigner phrased it, in answering questions about the real world?

Natural phenomena could have been structured in a way...

When Friedrich Hirzebruch was a Member in the School of Mathematics in 1954, his paper, "Some problems on differentiable and complex manifolds", was published in the Annals of Mathematics. In it he asked whether Chern numbers in...

My friend Specker, who could not speak English too well, he told him, “Well, we liked your reading, but I think you spoke down to the audience a bit, didn’t you?” and Dylan Thomas let loose, swear words of an order that we didn’t use, that were no-nos.

The phrase “fantasy echo” has its origins in a mistake made by a student in George Mosse’s class at the University of Wisconsin in 1964 who had failed to understand the heavily accented pronunciation of fin de siècle by his German-born...