Lectures by Faculty

The "P vs. NP" Problem: Efficient Computation, Internet Security, and the Limits of Human Knowledge

Avi Wigderson
Institute for Advanced Study
October 24, 2008

The "P vs. NP" problem is a central outstanding problem of computer science and mathematics.  In this talk, Professor Wigderson attempts to describe its technical, scientific, and philosophical content, its status, and the implications of its two possible resolutions.

The Fifth Element: Astronomical Evidence for Black Holes, Dark Matter, and Dark Energy

Scott Tremaine
Institute for Advanced Study
October 15, 2008

Scott Tremaine, Richard Black Professor, School of Natural Sciences
One of the remarkable successes of twentieth century astronomy was the demonstration that the laws of physics derived in the laboratory can successfully describe a wide range of astronomical objects and phenomena. One of the great hopes of twenty-first century physics is that astronomy can return the favor, by allowing us to explore physics that cannot be studied in the laboratory. As examples, Professor Tremaine described three exotic forms of matter that (so far) are known to exist only from astronomical observations: black holes, dark matter, and dark energy.

Modernism Between Weimar and the Third Reich

Peter Paret
Institute for Advanced Study
March 2, 2008

Peter Paret, Professor Emeritus, School of Historical Studies. From 1933 to 1945, a culture war was waged between National-Socialism and modernism in the arts.  In this lecture, given in conjunction with a performance by the Princeton Symphony Orchestra featuring works by Mendelssohn, Schulhoff, and von Webern, Peter Paret explains that although their compositions were stylistically different, they were attacked for the same underlying reason:  Hitler’s concept of the arts as an arena of ideological, racial, and political conflict over Germany’s present and future.