ARC/Neuroscience Joint Seminar: Christos Papadimitriou, Columbia University

ARC/Neuroscience Joint Seminar

Christos Papadimitriou (Columbia University)

Monday, January 23, 2023, 11:15 am – 12:15 pm

EBB, Room 1005

To participate virtually, CLICK HERE

Title: Towards Biologically Plausible Intelligence

Abstract:  There is no doubt that cognition and intelligence are the results of neural activity - but how, exactly? How do molecules, neurons, and synapses give rise to reasoning, language, plans, stories, art, math? Despite dazzling progress in experimental neuroscience, as well as in cognitive science, we do not seem to be making progress on the overarching question. As Richard Axel recently put it in an interview: "We don't have a logic for the transformation of neuronal activity to thought and action. I view discerning [this] logic as the most important future direction of neuroscience". What kind of formal system would qualify as this "logic"? I will introduce a mathematical model of the brain, which arguably captures the basic tenets of neuroscience and can be simulated efficiently; its main emergent behavior are assemblies of neurons, representations of stimuli, concepts, words, etc.  Using this framework a Parser was constructed which (a) can handle reasonably complex sentences in English and other languages; and (b) works exclusively through the firing of biologically realistic neurons.  I will discuss ongoing work aiming to reproduce language acquisition in a biologically plausible way.

Bio:  Christos Harilaos Papadimitriou is the Donovan Family Professor of Computer Science at Columbia University. Before joining Columbia in 2017, he was a professor at UC Berkeley for the previous 22 years, and before that he taught at Harvard, MIT, NTU Athens, Stanford, and UCSD. He has written five textbooks and many articles on algorithms and complexity, and their applications to optimization, databases, control, AI, robotics, economics and game theory, the Internet, evolution, and the brain. He holds a PhD from Princeton (1976), and eight honorary doctorates, including from ETH, University of Athens, EPFL, and Univ. de Paris Dauphine. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences of the US, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Engineering, and he has received the Knuth prize, the Go"del prize, the Babbage award, the von Neumann medal, as well as the 2018 Harvey Prize by Technion. In 2015 the president of the Hellenic republic named him commander of the order of the Phoenix. He has also written three novels: "Turing," "Logicomix" and his latest "Independence."

Note: Lunch provided for in-person attendees. 

2022-2023 GT Neuro Seminar Series - Mondays at 11:15 AM


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Event Details


  • Monday, January 23, 2023
    11:15 am - 12:15 pm

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