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Saturday lecture and forum

The Philosopher’s Toolkit: How to Be the Most Rational Person in Any Room
Teachco course number 4253
Professor Patrick Grim, State University of New York at Stony Brook
24 lectures: June[masked] - November[masked]

Each 30 min video lecture is followed by one hour long moderated discussion. Attendance is open. New members are welcome!

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  • gary

    Larry mentioned Tom Lehrer and the Lobachevsky Song. Tom Lehrer was a mathematician who had an entertainment career in the sixties. He taught statistics in the political science department of MIT throughout the sixties. I had the privilege of meeting him at a party, where he was kind enough to play Vatican Rag on our not-so-well-tuned piano. He's still around, age 83.

    Here's the Lobachevsky song:


    and here's a bio:

    Here's his 1965 take on New Math, which was an education fad of the time, inspired by Sputnik fear.

    This is segmented version of a 1967 performance in Cophenhagen. Most of his classics are in it. The URL here opens at the end of the performance, with Vatican Rag, because I think no-one can say they've heard Lehrer until they've heard this.

    July 27, 2013

    • gary

      The Vatican Rag link here is one of the best performances of this piece. It comes from a filmed appearance in Denmark in 1967, as do many of the other pieces in the playlist. Originally, you could view the whole film without interruption. I think it's now broken up because they want to use the segments to promote sales of CDs and DVDs. I'm fine with that, Tom deserves to reap the rewards of his brief career.

      July 28, 2013

    • Jon R.

      Just a personal note. My second-year college roommate was Marc Lehrer, Tom's cousin.

      July 28, 2013

  • Jon R.

    Insights from programming computers to be creative problem solvers:

    1. Define a test for a proposal to be a solution that measures degree of fitness, so that proposals can be ordered.
    2. A method of randomly generating proposals that strikes a balance between generating too many candidates and too few, and ideally one that will be likely to eventually the best solution in polynomial time.

    This second element is tough, because most constraints act like "boxes" (as in thinking outside of) that can block finding the best possible solution.

    One approach is genetic algorithms. The generator is random but constrained by having successive candidates be rearranged pieces of previous ones. Pieces that contribute more to success are more likely to survive and be combined with other adaptive pieces.

    This is the approach used in the tool Eureqa

    July 28, 2013

    • Jon R.

      Groups can be more creating than individuals for some kinds of problems. Thus we have brainstorming, defined by Alex Osborn in 1939 http://www.stanford.e...­ and practiced in courses in creative engineering at MIT, led by John Arnold, in which the students were tasked to design technology for alien beings on planets with very different physical conditions than Earth.

      I further introduced the concept of questorming­ and the field of pynthantics­

      Nobelist Harold Urey was once asked by a reporter, "How did you make all those important discoveries?" Urey replied, "I asked the right questions. If you ask the right question, getting the answer can be straightforward."

      July 28, 2013

  • Leonard H.

    July 21, 2013

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