The Absent-Minded Father of Cybernetics, Norbert Wiener
“When we met, was I walking to the faculty club or away from it? I’m wondering, because in the latter case I’ve already had my lunch”
American mathematician Norbert Wiener (1894–1964) was by all accounts, a very peculiar man. After graduating from high school at 11 years old, he entered Tufts College and within three years was awarded an A.B. in mathematics. Before the age of 18, Harvard had awarded him a Ph.D. for his dissertation in mathematical logic. Described by author Sylvia Nasar as
“An American John von Neumann, a polymath of great originality who made stunning contributions in pure mathematics and then embarked on a second and equally astounding career in applied mathematics”
Wiener would be the man to give modern meaning to the word ‘feedback’ through his invention of cybernetics (the study of regulatory systems) which has since birthed revolutionary subfields such as artificial intelligence, computer vision, robotics, neuroscience, and many more.