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[theory-seminar] Christos Papadimitriou speaking *today* at 4:30 pm

Moses Charikar moses at
Thu Mar 31 15:44:10 PDT 2022


Quick reminder about Christos Papadimitrou's talk today in less than an

By popular demand, we will have the talk available on zoom:


On Wed, Mar 30, 2022 at 8:47 AM Amin Saberi <saberi at> wrote:

> Hello everyone,
> Christos Papadimitriou is speaking in a special RAIN seminar tomorrow at
> 4:30. I expect it to be a very interesting talk on a fascinating topic.
> See below.
> Amin
> *4:30 PM, Thursday, March 31st *
> *Gates 403 Fujitsu Conference Room*
> *Title:* How does the brain beget the mind?
> *Speaker:* Christos Papadimitriou, Columbia University
> *Abstract: * There is no doubt that cognition and intelligence are the
> results of neural activity --- but how, exactly?  How do molecules,
> neurons, and synapses give rise to reasoning, language, plans, stories,
> art, math?   Despite dazzling progress in experimental neuroscience, as
> well as in cognitive science, we do not seem to be making progress on the
> overarching question.  As Richard Axel recently put it in an interview: "We
> don't have a logic for the transformation of neuronal activity to thought
> and action. I view discerning [this] logic as the most important future
> direction of neuroscience". What kind of formal system would qualify as
> this "logic"?
> I will introduce a computational system whose basic data structure is the
> assembly of neurons --- assemblies are large populations of neurons
> representing concepts, words, ideas, episodes, etc. The Assembly Calculus
> is biologically plausible in the sense that Its primitives are properties
> of assemblies observed in experiments, or useful for explaining other
> experiments, and can be provably (through both mathematical proof and
> simulations in biologically realistic platforms) "compiled down" to the
> activity of neurons and synapses. Experiments show that this programming
> framework can simulate --- exclusively through the spiking of neurons ---
> high-level cognitive functions, such as parsing natural language and
> planning in the blocks world..  We believe that this formalism is
> well-positioned to help in bridging the gap between the brain and the mind.
> *Bio: *One of world’s leading computer science theorists, Christos
> Papadimitriou is best known for his work in computational complexity,
> helping to expand its methodology and reach. He has also explored other
> fields through what he calls the algorithmic lens, having contributed to
> biology and the theory of evolution, economics, and game theory (where he
> helped found the field of algorithmic game theory), artificial
> intelligence, robotics, networks and the Internet, and more recently the
> study of the brain.
> He authored the widely used textbook *Computational Complexity,* as well
> as four others, and has written three novels, including the best-selling
> *Logicomix* and his latest, *Independence. *Papadimitriou has been
> awarded the Knuth Prize, IEEE’s John von Neumann Medal, the EATCS Award,
> the IEEE Computer Society Charles Babbage Award, and the Gödel Prize. He is
> a fellow of the Association for Computer Machinery and the National Academy
> of Engineering, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
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