**Lecturer:** Norbert Wiener, *Professor of Mathematics – Philosopher*

**Supervisor of the course: **Evangelos Kaliosis

**LECTURER’S BIOGRAPHY**

Norbert Wiener (born November 26, 1894, Columbia, U.S. – died March 18, 1964, Stockholm, Sweden), American mathematician who established the science of cybernetics. He achieved international fame by making some of the most important contributions to 20th-century mathematics.

Wiener was a prodigy whose education was controlled by his father, a professor of Slavic languages and literature at Harvard University, and he graduated from Tufts College in 1909, at the age of 14, with a degree in mathematics; he then pursued graduate studies in zoology, but dropped out after finding that he was not particularly adept at laboratory tests. At his father’s suggestion, he began to study philosophy and completed his doctorate at Harvard in 1913 with a thesis on mathematical logic.

When World War I broke out, he tried to enlist, but was rejected because of poor eyesight. For five years he tried a variety of trades. He was a teacher at the University of Maine, an encyclopedia writer, an apprentice engineer, a journalist, and a mathematician at the Proving Grounds in Aberdeen, Maryland. Finally, in 1919, he was hired as an instructor by the mathematics department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a department with no real tradition of scholarship or research at the time. However, it turned out to be the right choice for Wiener, for he had entered a highly productive period, just as MIT itself was beginning to develop into a major center of learning in science and technology. Wiener remained on the MIT faculty until his retirement.

During the 1920s, Wiener did extremely innovative and fundamental work on what are now called Target Processes and, in particular, on Brownian motion theory and generalized harmonic analysis, as well as important work on other problems of mathematical analysis. In 1933 Wiener was elected to the National Academy of Sciences but soon resigned as he came into conflict with circles of the scientific establishment , which he encountered there.

During World War II, Wiener worked on the problem of aiming shots at a moving target. His ideas in their development led to his paper «Extrapolation, Interpolation, and Smoothing of Stationary Time Series» (1949). With it he introduced certain statistical methods into control and communications engineering and exerted a great influence in these fields. This work also led him to formulate the concept of cybernetics.

In 1948 his book “Cybernetics: or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine” was published. For a scientific book it was extremely popular and Wiener became widely known. Cybernetics is interdisciplinary in nature, based on the relationship and partnership between humans and machines, and is used today in control theory, automation theory and computer programs to reduce many time-consuming calculations and decision-making processes previously performed by humans. Wiener worked in cybernetics, philosophized about it and propagated it throughout the rest of his life, while continuing his research in other areas of mathematics.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Wiener was not invited to participate in the Manhattan Project. After the war, his fame helped MIT form a research group in cognitive science, consisting of researchers in neuropsychology, mathematics and the biophysics of the nervous system, including Warren Sturgis McCulloch and Walter Pitts. These researchers would later make pioneering contributions to computer science and artificial intelligence.

After 1945, Wiener refused to accept any government funding or to work on military projects. The way in which his views on nuclear weapons and the Cold War contrasted with those of John Von Neumann is the subject of the book “John Von Neumann and Norbert Wiener”. Both of them, however, were in the “core” of the participants in the Macey Conferences (1946-1953).

**Works**

*Science*

- “A simplification in the logic of relations”. Proc. Camb.. Phil. Soc. 13: 387–390. 1912–14. Reprinted in van Heijenoort, Jean (1967). From Frege to Gödel: A Source Book in Mathematical Logic, 1879–1931. Harvard University Press. pp. 224–7.
- “Generalized harmonic analysis”, Acta Math. 55 (1): 117–258. 1930.
- The Fourier Integral and Certain of its Applications Cambridge, Univ. Press, 1933, reprint by Dover, CUP Archive, 1988.
- Extrapolation, Interpolation and Smoothing of Stationary Time Series. A war-time classified report nicknamed “the yellow peril” because of the color of the cover and the difficulty of the subject. Published postwar 1949 MIT Press.
- Cybernetics or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine. Paris, (Hermann & Cie) & Camb. Mass. (ΜΙΤ Press), 1948, 2nd revised ed. 1961.
- The Human Use of Human Beings, The Riverside Press (Houghton Mifflin Co.), 1950.
- Nonlinear Problems in Random Theory, MIT Press & Wiley, 1958.
- Selected Papers of Norbert Wiener, Cambridge Mass(MIT Press & SIAM), 1964.
- God & Golem, Inc.: A Comment on Certain Points Where Cybernetics Impinges on Religion., MIT Press, 1964.
- Norbert Wiener 1894–1964. Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 72 (1 Part 2). 1966. Published in book form.
- Generalized Harmonic Analysis and Tauberian Theorems, MIT Press, 1966.
- Invention: The Care and Feeding of Ideas, MIT Press. 1993.
- The Mathematical Work of Norbert Wiener. Masani P (ed) 4 vols, Camb. Mass. (ΜΙΤ Press). This contains a complete collection of Wiener’s mathematical papers with commentaries.

**Fiction**

- The Tempter, Random House, 1959.

**Autobiography**

- Ex-Prodigy: My Childhood and Youth, MIT Press, 1953.
- I am a Mathematician. London (Gollancz), 1956.