First Edition of John Von Neumann's The Computer and the Brain

  • The Computer and the Brain.

The Computer and the Brain.


Item Number: 72343

New Haven: Yale University Press, 1958.

First edition of this classic work, one of the greatest mathematicians of the twentieth century explores the analogies between computing machines and the living human brain. Octavo, original cloth. Names to the front free endpaper, near fine in a near fine dust jacket.

John Von Neumann passed away in 1957 before he could deliver these talks; this book constitutes his last writings, in which he concludes that the brain uses a “peculiar statistical language unlike that employed in the operation of computers.” Von Neumann was perhaps uniquely suited to compare the workings of the brain with those of the computer: renowned for his theory of games, which had many applications in the study of economics and human behavior, he was also largely responsible for the development of the “mathematical analyzer, numerical integrator and computer” (MANIAC), completed in 1952 at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, which was “the fastest and most accurate computer of its kind at that time” (DAB). “The lectures present ‘an approach toward the understanding of the nervous system from the mathematician’s point of view’; they discuss the principles underlying ‘the systematics and the practice of computing machines’ and how these resemble or differ from the way the brain functions” (Norman).

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