Pataphysics and Computing - Can a computer think irrationally?

Pataphysics and Computing - Can a computer think irrationally?

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This presentation examines 'Pataphysics and computing by exploring many attempts to undermine computational logic.

About this event


Professor Andrew Hugill, Deputy Director - Digital Culture Institute, University of Leicester.


18:00 - Event opens

18:15 - Professor Andrew Hugill

19:15 - Questions and Answers with Professor Andrew Hugill

19:45 - Close


'Pataphysics was defined in 1911 by Alfred Jarry as "the science of imaginary solutions" and "the science of the laws governing contradictions and exceptions". Pataphysical logic subjects existing forms of knowledge to critical judgment. Its serious humour introduces apparent absurdity into a rational context, both establishing and exceeding the limits of coherence. There is a history of pataphysical involvement with computing which finds its roots in Jarry's mathematics. This presentation will explore that history and examine various approaches to undermining the logical structures of computers, from the strange literary constraints of the Oulipo to the Speculative Computing, from the role of pataphysics in Silicon Valley to "patadata" and the experimental programming language PRASCAL. It concludes with a discussion of the pataphysics of quantum computing.


Professor Andrew Hugill

Andrew Hugill is a Professor of Creative Computing at the University of Leicester, where he is also Deputy Director of the Digital Culture Institute. He is also a composer, musicologist and Professor of Music. His books include 'The Digital Musician' (Routledge 2016), now in its third edition, and 'Pataphysics: A Useless Guide (MIT Press, 2012). Recent musical compositions include 'Spectrum Sounds' (2021) commissioned by the BBC, and 'Thirty Minutes for diplacusis piano' (2019) commissioned by the Arts Council and GNResound Ltd. He leads the Aural Diversity network and is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

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