SC 216: Dangerous Knowledge: Mathematician Kurt Gödel – Class presentations available

This class explored the life and mathematical discoveries of Kurt Gödel, the foremost scholar of logic of the 20th Century. He shocked the mathematical world in 1931 by showing mathematics to be either incomplete or inconsistent, i.e., there are either mathematical truths that can never be proven, or things that can be proven that are not true. Gödel’s results led directly to Alan Turing’s discovery of modern computing theory and influenced many other areas of mathematics and philosophy, striking at the heart of the question of whether computers can ever be said to be intelligent in the sense that people are. Gödel was himself a problematic figure, who suffered from depression and paranoia and eventually starved himself to death.

 April 17:  Dangerous Knowledge: a film about the lives of four mathematicians – Gödel, Boltzmann, Cantor and Turing – all of whom suffered from consequences of their discoveries.

April 24:  Gödel’s Early Life and the Background of the Problem he set out to Address: Gödel’s early life through his studies as a Ph.D. candidate and his membership in the famous Vienna Circle.

May 1:  Incompleteness – Gödel’s Proof: an outline of the basic principles underlying Gödel’s proof of the incompleteness of mathematics, and its implications for computational theory and artificial intelligence.

May 8: Gödel’s Later Life: a review of Gödel’s life and work after he left Germany up through his untimely death in 1978. Collaboration with Einstein is part of this story.

Presenter: Howard Mirowitz, MBA  Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, is retired from the world of high tech business development and venture capital, and is now a community volunteer and amateur mathematician and musician. He has also taught courses in new product development at the UCI Merage School of Business, and has been a popular OLLI presenter.

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