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Notes and Reflections on Books and Media

by Hannah Leitheiser

Class System

#computer #mathematician

Turing's Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe

George Dyson




"all over the world multiple copies of the Institute for Advanced Study computer were being built with a constant stream of visitors coming to Princeton to learn the new techniques. The mathematicians sided against the computer and generally agreed that the machine belonged somewhere else. 'It is time Von Neumann revolutionized some other subject. He has spent rather too long in the field of automatic computation.' Use of computers was a very funny subject in the early days because it was slightly beneath the Dignity of mathematicians. Engineers were used to doing calculations but mathematicians weren't." - George Dyson , Turing's Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe (2012)

Von Neumann's charm was able to get the institute to house a computer, but under protest. Once he died, they got rid of it as soon as they could, throwing away the opportunity to be a power in early computers. Can't say I know many mainstream mathematicians to say whether they still hold calculation to be beneath them and computers outside their field.