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My undergraduate thesis in fixed point theorems

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The importance of my undergraduate classes at Harvard
Marvin Minsky Scientist
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One of the big steps in my career was that I was a student at Harvard. I took all sorts of courses, mostly science. I managed to… you know, you take four courses a term and you’re, you have eight terms, two terms per year. So that’s only 32… courses and I think I managed to get through Harvard with 27 or 28 science courses and then... what do you do about the rest? Two were philosophy which was a course given by Willard Quine who’s a logician, so that’s… that’s actually mathematics – philosophy hides that way – probably three of them were music which is certainly not considered science, but there I was. And there was a young professor, composer, Irving Fine, who taught music and I think I took three of his courses and he gave me a C in each one. But he thought I was maybe the most talented of the students anyway.

Marvin Minsky (1927-2016) was one of the pioneers of the field of Artificial Intelligence, founding the MIT AI lab in 1970. He also made many contributions to the fields of mathematics, cognitive psychology, robotics, optics and computational linguistics. Since the 1950s, he had been attempting to define and explain human cognition, the ideas of which can be found in his two books, The Emotion Machine and The Society of Mind. His many inventions include the first confocal scanning microscope, the first neural network simulator (SNARC) and the first LOGO 'turtle'.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is a London-based television producer and director who has made a number of documentary films for BBC TV, Channel 4 and PBS.

Tags: Harvard University, Willard Quine, Irving Fine

Duration: 1 minute, 27 seconds

Date story recorded: 29-31 Jan 2011

Date story went live: 12 May 2011