A sociologist amongst the theorem provers
Donald MacKenzie, Edinburgh University
Wednesday 12th May 2004, 6:30 pm
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society, 36 York Place, Edinburgh EH1 3HU (street
map)
This paper will discuss the histories of mathematical proofs about computer
systems (that is, of formal verification) and of proofs using computer systems
(automated theorem proving, the proof of the fourcolour theorem), etc. It
will explain why these histories are of interest to the sociology of science,
will discuss the first litigation centring on the nature of mathematical
proof, and will explore the “cultures of proving” within which different forms
of proof are pursued.
About the speaker
Donald
MacKenzie works on the sociology and social history of science and technology,
especially those fields that have a major impact on people's lives: the
eugenics movement and its effect on science; the development of nuclear
weapons; safetycritical and securitycritical computer systems. He holds an
ESRC Professorial Research Fellowship in "social studies of finance". His most
recent books are Knowing Machines (MIT Press, 1996); The Social Shaping of
Technology, edited with Judy Wajcman (Open University Press, second edition,
1999), and Mechanizing Proof: Computing, Risk and Trust (MIT Press, 2001).
