FI Computational Methods and Data Science Journal Club
Flatiron Institute, 162 5th Avenue
Speaker: Christos H. Papadimitriou
Title: How does the brain beget the mind?
How do molecules, cells and synapses effect reasoning, planning, language? Despite dazzling progress in experimental neuroscience, as well as in cognitive science at the other extreme of scale, we do not seem to be making progress in the overarching question -- the gap is huge and a completely new approach seems to be required. As Richard Axel recently put it: "We need a logic for the transformation of neural activity into thought..." What kind of formal system would qualify as this "logic"? I will introduce the assembly calculus, a computational system and programming framework which appears to be a promising bridge between neurons and cognition. Through this framework, a Parser was recently implemented which (a) can handle reasonably complex sentences of English and other languages, and (b) works exclusively through the spiking of neurons.
Christos Harilaos Papadimitriou is the Donovan Family Professor of Computer Science at Columbia University. Before joining Columbia in 2017, he was a professor at UC Berkeley for the previous 22 years, and before that he taught at Harvard, MIT, NTU Athens, Stanford, and UCSD. He has written five textbooks and many articles on algorithms and complexity, and their applications to optimization, databases, control, AI, robotics, economics and game theory, the Internet, evolution, and recently the brain. He holds a PhD from Princeton (1976), and eight honorary doctorates, including from ETH, University of Athens, EPFL, and Univ. de Paris Dauphine. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences of the US, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Engineering, and he has received the Knuth prize, the Go"del prize, the von Neumann medal, as well as the 2018 Harvey Prize by Technion. He has also written three novels: “Turing ,” “Logicomix” and his latest “Independence.
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