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January 23, 2011

Seminar on Higher-Dimensional Algebra

Posted by David Corfield

Minhyong Kim announces that the Seminar on higher-dimensional algebra is beginning in London this week. One of Minhyong’s students, James Haydon, is giving the first of these – N-categories according to Baez and Dolan – on Thursday, 27, January, 2011 in KLB M204 of UCL.

In other news, Lieven le Bruyn tells us about a one-stop shop for mathematical blogs –

Also while at Lieven’s blog, I noticed the guest post On the Reality of Noncommutative Space by Fred Van Oystaeyen, the author of Virtual Topology and Functorial Geometry (Taylor and Francis, 2009). The post ends with intriguing remark

In the book I mentioned how “free will” could be a noncommutative space aspect of the brain activity. I also mention a possible relations with string theory. I am not a specialist in all these things but now I reached the point that I “feel” noncommutative space is a better approximation of the reality and one should investigate it further.

I have a student starting a PhD with me on free will. Little does he know he’d better start learning functorial geometry.

Posted at January 23, 2011 11:24 AM UTC

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Re: Seminar on Higher-Dimensional Algebra

Your student might be interested in the “most information is incompressible” take on free will:

Posted by: Robert Smart on January 23, 2011 6:55 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Seminar on Higher-Dimensional Algebra

How technical is the talk and whats the target audience? Grad students and above?

And is it easier to get there from Euston or Euston Square?

Posted by: kate on January 24, 2011 9:14 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Seminar on Higher-Dimensional Algebra

These are all questions better posed at the organiser’s blog.

Posted by: David Corfield on January 24, 2011 10:22 PM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Seminar on Higher-Dimensional Algebra

David wrote:

I have a student starting a PhD with me on free will.

What is he predestined to write about?

I agree with Robert Smart’s observation that:

Observing what a person does is the only way to find out what that person will do.

but as he points out, this is also true of hurricanes. So, I don’t think that unpredictability of behavior is a sufficient condition for us to say something has free will.

John H. Conway and Simon Kochen’s free will theorem is somewhat interesting:

• John H. Conway and Simon Kochen, The free will theorem.

• Sheldon Goldstein, Daniel V. Tausk, Roderich Tumulka, and Nino Zanghì, What does the free will theorem actually prove?

• John H. Conway and Simon Kochen, The strong free will theorem.

However, for the purposes of their result, they define an entity has “free will” if its actions are not determined by prior conditions… and they conclude that if experimenters have free will, so do electrons. This doesn’t match my intuition of free will, which really involves the notion of will.

I hope your student reads this book:

• Daniel Dennett, Elbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting, 1984.

which digs a bit deeper into what ‘free will’ might really mean.

Posted by: John Baez on January 28, 2011 12:13 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: Seminar on Higher-Dimensional Algebra

Personally, I do what I want. But I don’t will what I want. Because that always occurs a few seconds earlier.

For instance I decided better not to post this comment. But it only occured to me five seconds after hitting submit .

Posted by: Urs Schreiber on January 28, 2011 11:39 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

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