History of Science Lecture with Stephanie Dick

History of Science Lecture with Stephanie Dick

History of Science Lecture featuring Stephanie Dick
“Castles in the Sky”: Mathematics, Marxism, and the Mind In the Early Automation of Proof
Friday, April 12, 2024
5:30 p.m. | Dilworth Room 
Competing definitions of “reasoning” abound within mid-twentieth century attempts to automate it. Many early computing researchers believed that human intelligence, mathematical intelligence in particular, inhered in our capacity to reason and, as such, thought that the identification and automation of the ‘rules of right reasoning’ was the most promising approach to the automation of problem solving, theorem-proving, and much else. Most famously, Allen Newell and Herbert Simon’s theory of reasoning-as-rule-bound heuristics was highly influential in early artificial intelligence research. But others, foremost among them Chinese American logician Hao Wang, rejected their approach to the automation on the grounds that their theory of reasoning hardly captured the human reality. Wang offered instead an alternative theory of human reasoning that drew in part from his training in materialist philosophy in China and his interest in Marxism in the 1950s, and his alternative view also engendered an entirely different approach to the automation of mathematics than those working in “artificial intelligence.”

This talk explores the competing definitions of “reasoning” that accompanied early automation efforts, with a focus on Wang’s alternative perspective. Wang sat at the intersection between “Eastern” and “Western” culture, philosophy, and ideology. His work offers an opportunity to revisit the stakes of automation in mathematics, the competing techniques and technical achievements of different approaches, and the politics of logic in the twentieth century.

Stephanie Dick
Assistant Professor of Communication
at Simon Fraser University

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History of Science Lecture with Stephanie Dick - Friday, April 12, 2024

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Date & Time

April 12, 2024 | 5:30pm