Honors Seminar in Computer Science: Computing and Philosophy


Section 1, Spring, 2012

Professor Eric Allender

Phone: (732) 445-2001 ext 3629
FAX: (732) 445-0537

Email: allender@cs.rutgers.edu

Office: Hill 442
Click here for current Office Hours.

Time: Tuesdays noon-1:20 pm
Place: Hill 005
Semester: Spring 2012

Code: 01-198-195-01

DESCRIPTION: What does it mean to "know" something? Or to "learn" something? What is "intelligence"? Or "communication? Or "randomness"?

We won't answer these questions -- but we will learn a bit about how an algorithmic point of view has contributed to our understanding of these eternal problems. As a starting point, we will read and discuss the paper Why Philosophers Should Care about Computational Complexity , by Scott Aaronson.

The only prerequisite for this class is participation in the honors program. You do not need a background in philosophy. (The instructor certainly has no such background!) You do not need to have background in computational complexity, learning theory, artificial intelligence, or any of the other aspects of computing that we will touch on. You do need to be able to engage in animated discussion on fundamental topics, and to be able to formulate, defend, and change your opinions on these topics. Discussions will take place both in class and in a blog. Active participation in these discussions is mandatory.