The Institute Letter Spring 2021

Includes a variety of articles by Faculty and Members exploring the origins of the Second World War and the bias that is often built into state accounts; mathematical dualities and Fourier transforms; and the troubling history and misuse of the term “moral hazard” in health insurance. Also featuring a transcript of Alondra Nelson’s remarks, delivered on the occasion of her appointment as Deputy Director for Science and Society in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; and Avi Wigderson’s 2021 Abel Prize for foundational contributions to the field of the theory of computation.

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In colloquial speech the word “duality” connotes two contrasting facets of a single entity, often at odds with one another. The concept is anthropomorphized in mythology by deities or monsters with multiple faces, like the two-faced Janus, Roman god of doorways. It is also enshrined in pop culture in the double visages of Jekyll and Hyde, and in the Batman villain Harvey Dent (alias Two-Face). In physics and mathematics, the concept of “duality” takes on a more positive connotation because of its ubiquity, utility, and power.