Math: Gödel, Escher, Bach

Gödel, Escher, Bach

As of this writing Nvidia stock has grown 190% in the last year based primarily on their Artificial Intelligence and parallel computing focus.

Meanwhile, Google’s AI AlphaGo Zero is mastering the game of go without any sort of human input.  (See story here.)

This seems like a perfect time to revisit the Pulitzer Prize winning work Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter.  In this work, Hofstadter asks and addresses crucial questions and dynamics on the nature of possibility, beauty, consciousness, and the mind all in an attempt to understand the pathway towards and limits of AI.  He does this through analyzing meaning through the lens of mathematics and mathematical thought.  This book is intelligent, playful, interesting, relevant, and both mathematical and philosophical.

This course is very simple.  I want you to come to Santa Fe to study this book with me.  When I first approached this tome, it took 18 months of steady study to crack into some comprehension.  Together, we may be able to speed up that process so that you can enjoy Hofstadter’s playful, intellectual romp on your own.  We will read and discuss in beautiful Santa Fe.  We’ll break bread and break into understanding through study and play.

When you leave, you will have a fun math side project to work through and a virtual community to accompany you.  And as a side note, there is fodder here for a senior-level elective.  When I taught it, I called it Math, Art, and Nature, and it allowed students who didn’t fit the typical mold of an honors, independent school math student to access the beauty and unity of math in a compelling and exciting way.

It is still early, but I hope to get folks from The Santa Fe Institute, St. John’s College, and Los Alamos National Labs to join us.


I hope you’ll join me.  It will be a fabulous way to kick off the year!

Here are some things that folks have said about Drew’s courses:

  • I really enjoyed the variation of individual reading/processing with small group discussion/clarification followed by whole/large group “tear into it” without the constraint of having to get “this far”.
  • I really enjoyed the openness of our conversations. Everyone’s opinions and voice were heard.
  • I got many ideas of how I can change my curriculum to provide students with a greater individual learning experience in math that is more logic based.
  • I now have a list of books that I want to read, and I am excited to learn more and incorporate this learning into the classroom.
  • Our group delved deeply and fearlessly into ideas that left us initially torpedoed but ultimately enriched. We saw the worlds of math, language (and, for me, literature), and nature afresh.

with Drew Nucci

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