Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Icon Parking

Filed under: General — m759 @ 9:00 AM

For the title, see Icon Parking in a search for 54th  in this journal.

For related iconic remarks, click on either image below.


This post was suggested by the Dec. 30, 2016, date of the
death in Nuremberg of mathematician Wolf Barth.  The first
image above is from a mathematics-related work by
John von Neumann discussed here on that date.

See also Wolf Barth in this journal for posts that largely
concern not the above Barth, but an artist of the same name.
For posts on the mathematician only, see Barth + Kummer.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Hungarian Phenomenon

Filed under: General — Tags: , , — m759 @ 2:07 PM

For Autism Sunday —

Mathematician John von Neumann
reportedly died on this date.

"He belonged  to that so-called
Hungarian phenomenon…."

A webpage titled 
"Von Neumann, Jewish Catholic"

Illustrations of another Hungarian phenomenon:

IMAGE- Anthony Hopkins exorcises a Rubik cube

Saturday, July 26, 2014


Filed under: General — m759 @ 2:01 PM

Or:  Two Rivets Short of a Paradigm

Detail from an author photo:

IMAGE- 'House of Cards,' book on Bear Stearns, author photo, with two missing rivets

From rivet-rivet.net:

The philosopher Graham Harman is invested in re-thinking the autonomy of objects and is part of a movement called Object-Oriented-Philosophy (OOP). Harman wants to question the authority of the human being at the center of philosophy to allow the insertion of the inanimate into the equation. With the aim of proposing a philosophy of objects themselves, Harman puts the philosophies of Bruno Latour and Martin Heidegger in dialogue. Along these lines, Harman proposes an unconventional reading of the tool-being analysis made by Heidegger. For Harman, the term tool does not refer only to human-invented tools such as hammers or screwdrivers, but to any kind of being or thing such as a stone, dog or even a human. Further, he uses the terms objects, beings, tools and things, interchangeably, placing all on the same ontological footing. In short, there is no “outside world.”

Harman distinguishes two characteristics of the tool-being: invisibility and totality. Invisibility means that an object is not simply used but is: “[an object] form(s) a cosmic infrastructure of artificial and natural and perhaps supernatural forces, power by which our last action is besieged.” For instance, nails, wooden boards and plumbing tubes do their work to keep a house “running” silently (invisibly) without being viewed or noticed. Totality means that objects do not operate alone but always in relation to other objects–the smallest nail can, for example, not be disconnected from wooden boards, the plumbing tubes or from the cement. Depending on the point of view of each entity (nail, tube, etc.) a different reality will emerge within the house. For Harman, “to refer to an object as a tool-being is not to say that it is brutally exploited as a means to an end, but only that it is torn apart by the universal duel between the silent execution of an object’s reality and the glistening aura of its tangible surface.”

— From “The Action of Things,” an M.A. thesis at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, by Manuela Moscoso, May 2011, edited by Sarah Demeuse

From Wikipedia, a programming paradigm:

See also posts tagged Turing’s Cathedral, and Alley  Oop (Feb. 11, 2003).

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Catholic View

Filed under: General — m759 @ 9:48 AM

"When shall we three meet again?"

Left to right— John von Neumann, Richard Feynman, Stanislaw Ulam

The source of the above book's title, "Analogies between Analogies,"
was misattributed in a weblog post linked to here on March 4th, 2012.
It occurs in a quote due not to Stanislaw Ulam but to Stefan Banach

IMAGE- 'Catholic view' quote in foreword of book 'Analogies between Analogies'

Ulam was Jewish. Banach was not.

From a webpage on Banach

"On 3 April 1892, he was baptized in the Roman Catholic
 Parish of St. Nicholas in Krakow."

See also…

  1. a post of Sunday, April 2, 2006,
  2. yesterday's Pennsylvania lottery, and
  3. post 585 in this journal. 

(At Los Alamos, Ulam developed the Monte Carlo method.)

Monday, July 11, 2011

And/Or Problem

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 11:59 PM

"It was the simultaneous emergence
and mutual determination
of probability and logic
that von Neumann found intriguing
and not at all well understood."

Miklós Rédei


Update of 7 AM ET July 12, 2011—

Freeman Dyson on John von Neumann's
Sept. 2, 1954, address to the International
Congress of Mathematicians on
"Unsolved Problems in Mathematics"—

                                     …."The hall was packed with
mathematicians, all expecting to hear a brilliant
lecture worthy of such a historic occasion. The
lecture was a huge disappointment. Von Neumann
had probably agreed several years earlier to give
a lecture about unsolved problems and had then
forgotten about it. Being busy with many other
things, he had neglected to prepare the lecture.
Then, at the last moment, when he remembered
that he had to travel to Amsterdam and say something
about mathematics, he pulled an old lecture
from the 1930s out of a drawer and dusted it off.
The lecture was about rings of operators, a subject
that was new and fashionable in the 1930s. Nothing
about unsolved problems.
Nothing about the

Notices of the American Mathematical Society ,
February 2009, page 220

For a different account, see Giovanni Valente's
2009 PhD thesis from the University of Maryland,
Chapter 2, "John von Neumann's Mathematical
'Utopia' in Quantum Theory"—

"During his lecture von Neumann discussed operator theory and its con-
nections with quantum mechanics and noncommutative probability theory,
pinpointing a number of unsolved problems. In his view geometry was so tied
to logic that he ultimately outlined a logical interpretation of quantum prob-
abilities. The core idea of his program is that probability is invariant under
the symmetries of the logical structure of the theory. This is tantamount to
a formal calculus in which logic and probability arise simultaneously. The
problem that exercised von Neumann then was to construct a geometrical
characterization of the whole theory of logic, probability and quantum me-
chanics, which could be derived from a suitable set of axioms…. As he
himself finally admitted, he never managed to set down the sought-after
axiomatic formulation in a way that he felt satisfactory."

Monday, December 28, 2009

Brightness at Noon, continued

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 PM

This journal’s Christmas Day entry, Brightness at Noon, was in response to the Orwellian headline “Arthur Koestler, Man of Darkness,” at the top of the online New York Times front page on Christmas morning.

The entry offered, as an example of brightness, some thoughts of Leibniz on his discovery of binary arithmetic.

Related material:

home > welcome > Leibniz

Omnibus ex nihilo ducendis sufficit unum

G W Leibniz

“To make all things from nothing, unity suffices.” So it is written on a medal entitled Imago Creationis and designed by Leibniz to “exhibit to posterity in silver” his discovery of the binary system.

Baron Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (also Leibnitz) 1646-1716. Philosopher and mathematician. Invented calculus independently of Newton. Proposed the metaphysical theory that we live in “the best of all possible worlds.”

He also discovered binary number system and believed in its profound metaphysical significance. He noticed similarity with the ancient Chinese divination system “I Ching.”

We chose him for our patron, for Krawtchuk polynomials can be understood as a sophistication of the simple counting of 0 and 1…

Philip Feinsilver and Jerzy Kocik, 17 July 2001

From Mikhail Krawtchouk: Short Biography

Anyone knowing even a little Soviet history of the thirties can conclude that Krawtchouk could not avoid the Great Terror. During the Orwellian “hours of hatred” in 1937 he was denounced as a “Polish spy,” “bourgeois nationalist,” etc. In 1938, he was arrested and sentenced to 20 years of confinement and 5 years of exile.

Academician Krawtchouk, the author of results which became part of the world’s mathematical knowledge, outstanding lecturer, member of the French, German, and other mathematical societies, died on March 9, 1942, in Kolyma branch of the GULAG (North-Eastern Siberia) more than 6 months short of his 50th birthday.

Incidentally, happy birthday
to John von Neumann.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Saturday April 4, 2009

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 7:01 PM
Steiner Systems

"Music, mathematics, and chess are in vital respects dynamic acts of location. Symbolic counters are arranged in significant rows. Solutions, be they of a discord, of an algebraic equation, or of a positional impasse, are achieved by a regrouping, by a sequential reordering of individual units and unit-clusters (notes, integers, rooks or pawns). The child-master, like his adult counterpart, is able to visualize in an instantaneous yet preternaturally confident way how the thing should look several moves hence. He sees the logical, the necessary harmonic and melodic argument as it arises out of an initial key relation or the preliminary fragments of a theme. He knows the order, the appropriate dimension, of the sum or geometric figure before he has performed the intervening steps. He announces mate in six because the victorious end position, the maximally efficient configuration of his pieces on the board, lies somehow 'out there' in graphic, inexplicably clear sight of his mind…."

"… in some autistic enchantment,http://www.log24.com/images/asterisk8.gif pure as one of Bach's inverted canons or Euler's formula for polyhedra."

— George Steiner, "A Death of Kings," in The New Yorker, issue dated Sept. 7, 1968

Related material:

A correspondence underlying
the Steiner system S(5,8,24)–


The Steiner here is
 Jakob, not George.

http://www.log24.com/images/asterisk8.gif See "Pope to Pray on
   Autism Sunday 2009."
    See also Log24 on that
  Sunday– February 8:

Memorial sermon for John von Neumann, who died on Feb. 8,  1957


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday February 8, 2009

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 11:00 AM
The Sound of Silence

Memorial sermon for John von Neumann, who died on Feb. 8,  1957

See also yesterday’s entry
on philosophy professor
Joan Stambaugh and the
fabrication of a now-famous saying
   falsely attributed to Einstein–
that the Bible is “pretty childish.”

Stambaugh advocates
a Zen form of nihilism.

The 4×4 space illustrated
above is a Western form
of the the Sunyata, or
emptiness, discussed by
Stambaugh in
The Formless Self.

It appeared in this journal
on the feast day this year
of St. John Neumann.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Sunday October 7, 2007

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:07 PM
Deep Beauty

was the title of a symposium on quantum theory at Princeton last week dedicated to the late John von Neumann. The title was left undefined. In honor of von Neumann, here is some material that may help those searching for the title’s meaning:

 The 45 citations
at Arxiv Structure

of a paper titled
“Quantum Theory From
Five Reasonable Axioms.”

The school of thought represented in these citations has recently become surprisingly popular– it appears in a TV commercial featuring the phrase “a more intelligent model.”

Those who wisely object that popularity should not be a test of beauty may consult a little-known (at least in the West) Sino-Japanese definition of “deep beauty.” This definition– although from philosophy, not physics– may appeal to those who, like Peter Woit, are troubled by a Christian foundation’s sponsorship of last week’s scientific symposium.

“Deep beauty”
is yuugen.

Sunday, August 7, 2005

Sunday August 7, 2005

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:20 AM
Presbyterian Justice

News from today’s New York Times:

The Rev. Dr. Theodore Alexander Gill Sr., a Presbyterian theologian, a philosophy teacher, and an influential provost emeritus of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, died at 85 on June 10 in Princeton.  In retirement from John Jay, The Rev. Dr. Gill was theologian in residence at Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton.

In memory of The Rev. Dr. Gill:

Religious Symbolism at Princeton
    (on Nassau Presbyterian Church),
    (on number theory at Princeton),
For the Mad Musicians of Princeton,
     (on Schroeder and Bernstein),
Movie Date and its preceding entries
   (on Princeton’s St. John von Neumann),
Why Me?
   (for Princeton theologian Elaine Pagels),
Notes on Literary and Philosophical Puzzles
   (Princeton’s John Nash as Ya Ya Fontana), and
Go Tigers!
   (for the Princeton Evangelical Fellowship).

For a more conventional memorial, see

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05B/050807-SFTS-Logo.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

the obituary from

San Francisco Theological Seminary.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Saturday June 26, 2004

Filed under: General — m759 @ 12:00 PM
Advanced Study

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix04A/040626-Goldstine.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Herman Goldstine (left), shown in 1952
at the Institute for Advanced Study
with J. Robert Oppenheimer (center)
and John von Neumann (right).

Click on the picture above
for an obituary in today’s New York Times
of Goldstine, who died on June 16, 2004.

Click on the picture below
for an event appropriate to
the date of Goldstine’s death.

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix04A/040626-Bloomsday.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

The event, a talk on black holes,
took place at the American
Philosophical Society
in Philadelphia.
Goldstine was
of the Society
from 1984 to 1997.

Friday, February 14, 2003

Friday February 14, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 4:44 AM

Toy Soldiers

From a website biography of John von Neumann:

It is noteworthy that he was uninhibited by ethical considerations in weaponry. I was surprised, therefore, when he died a Roman Catholic. To be sure, his first wife had been Catholic. I presume that he was a nominal one in those early days of his marriage. In his last illness, he asked for a clergyman, but he surprised them by insisting upon a Roman Catholic priest. A Benedictine was succeeded by a Jesuit for instruction. The attending Air Force chaplain told me that Johnny could quote the Penitential Psalms in Latin. 

— “Von Neumann, Jewish Catholic,” by Raymond J. Seeger, in Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 40 (December 1988): 234-236.   

The sixth of the Seven Penitential Psalms is Psalm 129, “De Profundis.”

From the film “The Sixth Sense“:



Only a few people sit and pray in the sea of oak pews. Malcolm scans the majestic room and finds what he’s looking for in the last row of the church. He moves down the center aisle towards the back.

Malcolm finds Cole playing in his pew with a set of green and beige plastic soldiers. Cole makes the soldiers talk to each other.



What was that you were saying before with your soldiers?
Day pro fun.


…De profundis clamo ad te domine.

Malcolm stares surprised.


It’s called Latin. It’s a language.

Malcolm nods at the information.


All your soldiers speak Latin?


No, just one.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Thursday February 13, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:30 PM

From Plato’s Cave
(Von Neumann’s Song, Part III)

In this entry we return to the classic words of the Hollywood Argyles as they sing a paean of praise to St. John von Neumann:

He’s the king of the jungle jive.
Look at that caveman go!

This meditation is prompted by a description of caveman life by the functional analysis working group at the University of Tübingen:

John von

“Soon Freud, soon mourning,
Soon Fried, soon fight.
Nevertheless who know this language?”

(Language courtesy of
Google’s translation software)

Picture of von Neumann courtesy of
Princeton University Library 

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Wednesday February 12, 2003

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 3:00 AM

Diamond Life
(Von Neumann’s Song, Part II)

A reader of yesterday’s entry “St. John von Neumann’s Song” suggested the relevance of little Dougie Hofstadter‘s book Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid.  While the title of this work does continue the “golden” theme of my last three entries, Dougie is not playing in von Neumann’s league.  The nature of this league is suggested by yesterday’s citation of

Abstract Harmonic Analysis. 

For work that is more in von Neumann’s league than in Hofstadter’s, see the following

harmonic analysis abstract:


Maria Girardi and Lutz Weis

…. The approach used combines methods from Fourier analysis and the geometry of Banach spaces, such as R-boundedness.

A related paper by the same authors:


…smooth operator-valued functions have a R-bounded range, where the degree of smoothness depends on the geometry of the Banach space.

Those who would like to make a connection to music in the charmingly childlike manner of Hofstadter are invited to sing a few choruses of “How do you solve a problem like Maria?

Personally, I prefer the following lyrics:

Diamond life, lover boy;
We move in space with minimum waste and maximum joy.
City lights and business nights
When you require streetcar desire for higher heights.

No place for beginners or sensitive hearts
When sentiment is left to chance.
No place to be ending but somewhere to start.

No need to ask.
He’s a smooth operator….

Words and Music: Sade Adu and Ray St. John

Some may wish to alter the last five syllables of these lyrics in accordance with yesterday’s entry on another St. John.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Tuesday February 11, 2003

Filed under: General — m759 @ 5:10 PM

St. John von Neumann’s Song

The mathematician John von Neumann, a heavy drinker and party animal, advocated a nuclear first strike on Moscow.*  Confined to a wheelchair before his death, he was, some say, the inspiration for Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove.  He was a Jew converted to Catholicism.  His saint’s day was February 8.  Here is an excerpt from a book titled Abstract Harmonic Analysis**, just one of the fields illuminated by von Neumann’s brilliance:

“…von Neumann showed that an intrinsic definition can be given for the mean M(f) of an almost periodic function…. Von Neumann proved the existence and properties of M(f) by completely elementary methods….”

Should W. B. Yeats wander into the Catholic Anticommunists’ section of Paradise, he might encounter, as in “Sailing to Byzantium,” an unexpected set of “singing-masters” there: the Platonic archetypes of the Hollywood Argyles.

The Argyles’ attire is in keeping with Yeats’s desire for gold in his “artifice of eternity”… In this case, gold lamé, but hey, it’s Hollywood.  The Argyles’ lyrics will no doubt be somewhat more explicit in heaven.  For instance, in “Alley Oop,” the line

“He’s a mean motor scooter and a bad go-getter”

will in its purer heavenly version be rendered

“He’s a mean M(f)er and…”

in keeping with von Neumann’s artifice of eternity described above.

This theological meditation was suggested by previous entries on Yeats, music and Catholicism (see Feb. 8, von Neumann’s saint’s day) and by the following recent weblog entries of a Harvard senior majoring in mathematics:

“I changed my profile picture to Oedipus last night because I felt cursed by fate….”

“It’s not rational for me to believe that I am cursed, that the gods are set against me.  Because I don’t even believe in any gods!”

The spiritual benefits of a Harvard education are summarized by this student’s new profile picture:

The image “http://log24.com/log/pix03/030211-oedipus.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.


*Source: Von Neumann and the Development of Game Theory

**by Harvard professor Lynn H. Loomis, Van Nostrand, 1953, p. 169.

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