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Hofstadter's great achievement in Gödel, Escher, Bach was making abstruse mathematical topics (such as undecidability, recursion, and "strange loops") accessible and remarkably entertaining. Borrowing a page from Lewis Carroll (who might well have been a fan of this book), each chapter presents dialogue between the Tortoise and Achilles, as well as other characters who dramatise concepts discussed later in more detail. Allusions to Bach's music (centring on his Musical Offering) and Escher's continually paradoxical artwork are plentiful here. This more approachable material lets the author delve into serious number theory (concentrating on the ramifications of Gödel's Theorem of Incompleteness) while stopping along the way to ponder the work of a host of other mathematicians, artists, and thinkers.
The world has moved on since 1979, of course. The book predicted that computers probably won't ever beat humans in chess, though Deep Blue beat Garry Kasparov in 1997. And the vinyl record, which serves for some of Hofstadter's best analogies, is now left to collectors. Sections on recursion and the graphs of certain functions from physics look tantalising, like the fractals of recent chaos theory. And AI has moved on, of course, with mixed results. Yet Gödel, Escher, Bach remains a remarkable achievement. Its intellectual range and ability to let us visualise difficult mathematical concepts help make it one of this century's best for anyone who's interested in computers and their potential for real intelligence. --Richard Dragan
This is one of my favourite books. If you like thinking, you will enjoy it!Published 2 months ago by Anna Bobrowska
I originally had one of the editions from the 1980s and I found the book engrossing as a student then, when I had the time and frame of mind to immerse myself into reading about... Read morePublished 3 months ago by ziggy_fan
Bought for my son who is studying maths degree. He is really enjoying reading it. I was pleased with swiftness of delivery.Published 4 months ago by FCC0101
Okay... maybe that's going too far, but this is invaluable reading for pretty much anyone who is interested in anything. Hofstadter's masterpiece. Read morePublished 11 months ago by ALyre