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InfoQ Homepage Presentations We Really Don't Know How To Compute!

We Really Don't Know How To Compute!

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Bio

Gerald Jay Sussman is the Panasonic Professor of EE at MIT. Sussman is a coauthor (with Hal Abelson and Julie Sussman) of the MIT computer science textbook “Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs”. Sussman has had a number of important contributions to Artificial Intelligence, and with his former student, Guy L. Steele Jr., invented the Scheme programming language in 1975.

About the conference

Strange Loop is a multi-disciplinary conference that aims to bring together the developers and thinkers building tomorrow's technology in fields such as emerging languages, alternative databases, concurrency, distributed systems, mobile development, and the web.

Recorded at:

Oct 27, 2011

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Community comments

  • Strange Loop

    by Alex Miller /

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    If you're interested in other upcoming videos from Strange Loop, the full release schedule is here. If you want to be notified for Strange Loop in the future, sign up for the mailing list.

  • Worth watching

    by Chris Marsh /

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    That was a gripping talk. And this is coming from someone who didn't understand it. I had a feeling Gerald Sussman was going to be a charismatic speaker from reading 'The Little Schemer', and here he certainly is.

  • Fascinating

    by Faisal Waris /

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    Sadly, Lisp inventor and AI pioneer John McCarthy passed away just recently

  • Re: Worth watching

    by David Thompson /

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    Gerry wrote The Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (and scheme) not The Little Schemer (Fellesisen & Friedman).

  • Re: Worth watching

    by Alex Miller /

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    Sussman wrote the foreword for the Little Schemer.

  • The houses of holly

    by Denis V /

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    > Sadly, Lisp inventor and AI pioneer John McCarthy passed away just recently

    Yes, it's sad. Just two weeks after Dennis Ritchie.

  • Great talk

    by Christopher Bare /

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    This was a great talk. Sussman compares the adaptability and robustness of biology with the brittleness of engineered technology. Learning to engineer complex systems (economies, ecosystems, metabolism) is the frontier of the 21st century.

  • EE style programming

    by David Koontz /

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    I've not seen much on the topic of EE style designs for programming. The closest I've seen is probably the Flow Based Programming book by JP Morrison and more recently the NoFlo project (noflojs.org/example/). Does anyone know of any other semi Digital Logic inspired programming approaches?

  • Mind Blowing

    by Hobson Lane /

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    A lot of genius ideas for how to construct programs as graphs of interdependent, incrementally improving approximations. Does an end run around Big O. To my untrained eye these look a lot like neural nets where each node is complex computer in its own right.

  • It's not that we don't know how to compute...

    by Sultan Sallaj /

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    Actually.. we DO know how to compute.. the points he is making is that he believes that computers are inadequate to that of the human mind because of how limiting we are in mapping out what we are trying to communicate. However, the reason for this is because of protocol. If I say "Hi" to another person with the same computational protocol, then "Hi" has meaning, because we shaped ourselves to know that "Hi" has significant value. When we develop programs, we have to PROGRAM MEANING INTO the application at the same time as the development of the value itself. The inefficient and non-conforming rules and constructs we developed over the last few centuries as it pertains to our language, is a hodgepodge which we simply don't argue against, because we accept it during our learning of it. To translate those same rules and constructs into a program has more work because we're also mapping those inefficient and non-conforming rules as well - otherwise it'll lose its meaning.

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