Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid

Posted on February 9th, 2005 by

As long as I’m here I figured I’d let anyone who’s interested know about a great book I’m reading right now. It’s incredibly dense & reads more as a philosophy of science book you sip rather than a novel you chug, but it’s an incredible journey through interrelationships between all formal systems, from number theory to art to programming to DNA to music to prose to just about anything. It’s titled Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter. Though it was written over 20 years ago, it’s written on such a wonderfully accessible analytical level that it’s still totally relevant today.

From the Amazon review:

Topics Covered: J.S. Bach, M.C. Escher, Kurt Gödel: biographical information and work, artificial intelligence (AI) history and theories, strange loops and tangled hierarchies, formal and informal systems, number theory, form in mathematics, figure and ground, consistency, completeness, Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometry, recursive structures, theories of meaning, propositional calculus, typographical number theory, Zen and mathematics, levels of description and computers; theory of mind: neurons, minds and thoughts; undecidability; self-reference and self-representation; Turing test for machine intelligence.



  1. Darryl Mataya says:

    I first read GEB as a Gustie senior in 1979. I’ve been reading this book about every 5 years since. With each read I have to concentrate on a different set of chapters and re-examine the lessons and relevance to my daily work – which is information processing, human to computer systems, how people process financial information, and various other hobby-studies in digital representations of informal problems. I highly recommend anyone in this field get your personal copy and keep it close by.
    -Darryl Mataya ’79

  2. By the way, Prof. T.J. Morrison will be using GEB as the focus for a First Term Seminar class in Fall of 2006. (In the First Term Seminar program, a small class of entering students is taught by their academic advisor. Each seminar has its own topic, but they all have a common goal of teaching how to be a college student.)