Figuring the Future: It Doesn't Figure: The Omega Man

The Omega Man

Over the past few decades, Gregory Chaitin, a mathematician at IBM's T.J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., has been uncovering the distressing reality that much of higher math may be riddled with unprovable truths--that it's really a collection of random facts that are true for no particular reason. And rather than deducing those facts from simple principles, "I'm making the suggestion that mathematics is done more like physics in that you come about things experimentally," he says. "This will still be controversial when I'm dead. It's a major change in how you do mathematics."

Chaitin's idea centers on a...

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