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Kasparov Meets G�del

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Garry Kasparov is just about to deliver a speech at the Gödel Centenary in Vienna. His 30 minute address includes a bunch of chess numbers and bits about tablebases and Deep Blue sure to interest this crowd. There is also an interesting affinity in how Gödel believed in a higher truth than the formulas provided by the formalists. You don't expect a logician to stand up for human intuition, which is essentially what he did. (The crux of his famous incompleteness statement is that there are always things that are true that cannot be proven to be true.) Kasparov's professional lectures to business groups often include material on the primacy of intuition over calculation.

I'm not 100% sure I comprehended Gödel in college, back when my brain was relatively unadulterated, but it's been fun rediscovering him and browsing a few of the excellent books that have come out about him in recent years, although these bios mostly stay away from the math. (Why do writers assume that people who read a math biography don't want to read any math? Why not just toss some in for the geeks who do?) Back in the day, all we had was Hofstadter. My friend Paul Hoffman wrote a great bio of the mathematician Paul Erdös. If the name rings a bell (Hoffman, not Erdös) it may be because he's currently helping the US Chess Federation revamp Chess Life and the website. I wonder how that's going.

[Thanks to everyone for the welcome back notes. It was nice to see that the weather in Brooklyn was mostly crappy while I was in the Bahamas working frantically on a book project at a retreat upstate.]


_Subtle is the Lord_ by Abraham Pais is an Einstein bio that does not shirk the physics; a nice if rare counterexample to the typical Fear Math biography.

Sad that I, living in Vienna, had to read about this here first.

Interesting! I actually read that bio on Erdös, a prolific mathematician with a disdain for all material possesions.
BTW, I had always wanted to ask, the forget. Who should I contact in order to invite Kasparov to give a talk on strategy and bussines to my company?

There are a couple of really good biographies about Erdos. I believe they are "The man who loved only numbers" and "My brain is open". Do a search for Erdos number and you can see just how prolific he was. Unfortunately it is no longer possible to get an Erdos number of 0.

*All* we had was Hofstadter? Mig, one of the formative works of my early years, how can you dish it so? A wonderful book that you may have spurred me to read again:)

Hah! We've hijacked the dirt-log into a discussion about mathematics and books! Bwah hah hah!

To continue: I recently discovered _Proofs from the Book_, inspired by Erdos and written by some of his collaborators; Erdos left to visit the supreme fascist before he could be made a co-author. _PFTB_ is a collection of elegant and enlightening proofs, per Erdos' highest aesthetic.

Mig since you know Paul Hoffman: please thank him for {me, my friends, various unmet friends} for writing _TMWLON_ next time you get a chance, thankyou.

Yeah no kidding, let's go easy on the "all we had was Hofstadter" comments :P. Up until about two days ago, I was more in the camp of "All we have is 'Godel, Escher Bach'" from Hofstadter - not that Hofstadter's other works (Metamagical Themas, The Mind's I, etc.) weren't as unique and insightful as GEB - I loved them all - but they didn't directly address the same concepts that he explored in GEB. But a couple of days ago I learned of his new book "I am a Strange Loop" which is coming out soon (later this year) and which apparently "is the book all GEB-lovers have been waiting for".

GEB was my favorite book of all for many years. But I admit that its explanation of Godel's incompleteness theorem, while it made sense when reading it, tended to dissolve into weird random pieces after you had closed the book. There was something about the arithmoquinification of uncles of knotty strings...

Results from the chess oscar:


Well done Veselin!

Not on this topic: but did anyone else see the New Yorker piece about Kirsan? (I haven't heard anyone mention it at all.) Gives him just enough rope to hang himself -- and also shows why he must be so absolutely desperate to win the election...

Hey Mig,

Any thoughts on the Kirsan article in the latest New Yorker?

can someone link to this article or post it here?

no one knows what you guys are talking about

Kasparov meets Gödel... Inside the Octagon? UFC 60? Garry now retires from politics to take up pit fighting. Gödel would kick his ace. Don't even try it Kaspy!

It would seem the article in "The New Yorker" is not available on-line.

It is in the April 24th issue. The May 1st issue is now in stores so I don't know where people will find it. Hopefully it will end up on their website.

Yes, I'm sorry, there's no link to the article; the New Yorker only puts a couple of things from each issue online. If you get a chance (local library?), it's worth checking out, though.

Mig wrote that "[t]he crux of his famous incompleteness statement is that there are always things that are true that cannot be proven to be true."

Uh - no!

Goedel's incompleteness theorem is that in any mathematical system is either inconsistent (meaning that a statement within the system can be proven to be both true and false using the system's axioms and rules of inference) or incomplete (meaning that one can construct a statement that is provably true, and requires an additional axiom to be added to the system, and this process can be carried out indefinately). To be sure, his work is an intellectual tour de force, but don't get metaphysical on me!

SZR, who today feels a little more vindicated for having studied mathematical logic in graduate school, even if he never uses it for anything else exept commenting on a chess blog.

Sorry SZR, but Mig's statement catches the flavor and probably characterizes it better for people who don't already understand the theorem (or aren't mathematically savy) then what you have written.

More to the point, SZR's critism -- regardless of objective merit -- risks attracting to this thread those gnomish, nerdish self-proclaimed math authorities who turned a couple of earlier threads into a cross between a PhD-level symposium and a Fox News talk show. Catfighting in chess jargon I can handle, but catfighting in math jargon is just too much. Let's practice some Nimzovichean prophylaxis and learn how to not feed the trolls EVEN BEFORE THEY SHOW UP.

It's funny how some classes of nerds look down on other classes of nerds.

Contrary to SZR .....

;-) sorry, couldn't resist.

Since this thread is about books (ahem..) could somebody please give me the full reference to a book titled "The Tal Enigma" by Vasily Vasilievich which Kasp refers to in My great predecessors vol 2?? I presume Vasily Vasilievich here is Smyslov, but I'm not sure!

Is anyone aware of a chess training book that teaches one how to think? Specificaly- how to calculate quickly and accurately, what to key in on, what to look at first, how to budget your time, etc.

If you're rated under 2000 USCF, try The Amateur's Mind by Jeremy Silman. Very instructive. One of the things he does is show the same position to people at different rating levels and discusses how they view it differently.

Reassess Your Chess is also wonderful, of course, but in some ways Amateur's Mind deals more with the kind of method of thinking issues you mention.



Another suggestion, a book that specifically set out to teach the "right way" to calculate, is called something like "The Inner Game of Chess." I think the author is Andy Soltis.

By the way, Silman had a Chess Life column in the 1990s also called The Amateur's Mind; I read some of that material (which is as Duif described) and it was excellent. How better to know what amateurs need to be taught, than actually give them positions to work on and then systematically record and examine how they play those positions, and write your articles based on that information?

Both Dan Heisman and Tim Taylor are good to read on this subject too. Both write regularly for Chesscafe, I think.

Tim Taylor writes a regular series now for IM Silman's site, www.jeremysilman.com Dan has his own site at www.danheisman.com, although I think he also has some articles at Jeremy's site as well.

And, of course, there's always the material in Mig's newsletters. ;)

My experience is that only players 2500+ can do a decent job of any of the things you are saying. It's pattern recognition and experience up to there.

'The Oxford Murders' is a neat little murder mystery which follows the new fad of mixing fact and fiction, there is - Andrew Wiles solving Femat's Last Theorem and something on application of Godel's theorem to crime.

What happened to http://www.chesschamps.com/ ? It is not about "My Great Predecessors" anymore!

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on April 28, 2006 1:18 PM.

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