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The surprising difficulty of using mathematics in computer science

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Christine Zarges.

Title: The surprising difficulty of using mathematics in computer science

The title is a deliberate pun on “The unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences”, a talk given by Eugene Wigner in 1959 (and you may wish to read his write-up on the web before you come to the seminar). Briefly, Wigner argued that in the natural sciences, and in physics in particular, mathematics exhibits an “a priori” usefulness and he speculates why this should be so. In computer science we also use mathematical language and mathematical theories, but one should perhaps not speak so much of “applicability” of one to the other, but of a rich and constantly evolving relationship between the two disciplines. I will trace one instance of this relationship; that which starts with Church’s lambda calculus in the 1930s and has since led to the development of programming languages such as Haskell.

This talk is part of the Computer Science Lunch Time Talk Series series.

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