Philosophical Society of Washington

Hilbert's Space: aspects of one century and prospects for the next

John S. Garavelli
Associate Director, Protein Information Resource

2112th Meeting Abstract
Friday, January 14, 2000 at 8:30 PM


On August 8, 1900, David Hilbert, one of the preeminent mathematicians of the day, delivered a lecture to the International Congress of Mathematicians being held in conjunction with the Paris Exposition. In the lecture and more fully in the published text, Hilbert presented 23 outstanding problems in mathematics and physics that he thought should and might be resolved in the 20th century. This agenda sparked a research program taken up by his associates and students, and by their associates and students, that continues in many fields to the present day. The results of that program include the most profound principles of modern physics, the most startlingly unexpected results of mathematical logic, and the most influential aspects of computation, communications, economics and molecular biology in modern life. These connections to David Hilbert will be traced through the 20th Century. A list of proposed problems will be considered some of which might and some of which must be resolved in the 21st Century.

About the Author:

John S. Garavelli received a B.Sc. in chemistry from Duke University in 1969 and, after service at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in 1970 and 1971, earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry at Washington University, Saint Louis, in 1975. He did post-doctoral work at the Duke University Marine Laboratory and taught at the University of Delaware and Texas A&M University. He was a National Research Council Senior Research Fellow at the Extraterrestrial Research Division, NASA Ames Research Center. Since 1989 he has been a Senior Research Scientist at the National Biomedical Research Foundation, and has been Associate Director of the Protein Information Resource since 1997. He has conducted research in biotechnology database operation and bioinformatics, computational chemistry, molecular evolution, information theory, and space biology.

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