Lessons for the Future from Princeton’s Past: John von Neumann and the Limits of Logic

David Nirenberg *92, Director and Leon Levy Professor of the Institute for Advanced Study

Our knowledge of mathematics and logic has structured much of what we think we know about the world. Today the powers of mathematics are greater than ever, as computation is applied to virtually every aspect of human activity.  When we apply mathematics so broadly, what do we gain and what do we lose?  I will ask this question by telling a Princeton story, the story of John von Neumann, longtime professor at the Institute for Advanced Study, co-creator of the atom bomb, the programmable computer, game theory, and many other terrifically consequential discoveries of the 20th century.

Thursday, MAR 2, 2023
6:00 - 7 PM Central

Virtual Via Zoom
Link will be e-mailed to registered guests on 3/1.

CLICK TO RESERVE BY 2/27 @ 3 pm!


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This event is cosponsored by APGA (Association of Princeton Graduate Alumni)

Prof. David Nirenberg *92

David Nirenberg is the 10th Director and Leon Levy Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ.

Prior to his appointment at IAS, he was the Deborah R. and Edgar D. Jannotta Distinguished Service Professor of Social Thought, History, Divinity, and Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Chicago, where he also served as the founding director of the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society (2011–14), Dean of the Social Sciences (2014–17), Executive Vice Provost (2017–18), and Dean of the Divinity School (2018–22).

Nirenberg is a historian of Christians, Jews, and Muslims in medieval Europe and the Mediterranean. His work explores the history of ideas, particularly medieval ideas about communication, exchange, and social relations, as well as ideas of race and racism.

His books include Communities of Violence: Persecution of Minorities in the Middle Ages (1996), Judaism and Christian Art: Aesthetic Anxieties from the Catacombs to Colonialism (2011), Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition (2013), and Aesthetic Theology and Its Enemies: Judaism in Christian Painting, Poetry, and Politics (2015) His most recent book, Uncountable: A Philosophical History of Number and Humanity from Antiquity to the Present (2021), was written in collaboration with Ricardo Nirenberg (David’s father and a mathematician). He is currently writing a history of race and religion, from the neolithic to the present.