India Special Session


Norbert Wiener : India Special Session

Friday, 23 July 2021 : 15:00 Hrs – 16.30 Hrs IST

In the 1950s, a visionary mathematician named Norbert Wiener was testing a version of the Turing machine with a chess program. It worked — Turing called it “computers that think.” The machine became known as the first “universal” machine, and it allowed theorists to explore the ramifications of the computational universe. What makes the Turing machine so fascinating is that in theory the only reason it can achieve human-level intelligence is because of a very specific device it uses to store its data.
Norbert Wiener was a universal genius, fluent in many languages, with a deep interest in poetry and literature. He was one of the last representatives of a vanishing liberal tradition.For Wiener as the initiator of modern factory automation, India provided an opportunity to work on an idea important to him, alternative development models to the “smokestack industrialization” of the European industrial revolution.
Norbert Wiener developed the field of cybernetics, the science of control and communication in the animal and machine
Did Wiener’s views on technology influence India’s subsequent technology development?
Wiener had a strong interest in mathematics, Mahalanobis organised a further extended visit in 1955, for which ISI was the primary host. Wiener stayed for seven months, delivering nearly 60 lectures from September 1955 to March 1956 on Ergodic Theory, Generalized Harmonic Analysis, the Hopf-Wiener Integral Equation, Prediction in Single Time Series, Multiple Predictions, Non-linear Predictions, and topics of special interest. These visits were significant for both Wiener and ISI. Wiener’s second visit made a significant contribution to the work of ISI colleagues.
Ghosh et al [1] describe one case: ‘Exposure to Wiener’s prediction theory, generalized harmonic analysis and chaos expansion changed the directions of Kallianpur’s research which culminated in the now-famous Kallianpur-Striebel function space version of Bayes formula and foundations of the theory of optimal filtering in the context of stochastic differential equations.
Wiener completed work on a prediction theory, ‘the Kolmogorov-Wiener theory in its systematized multivariate version, which was worked out during Wiener’s visit to the Indian Statistical Institute in 1955-1956’.Norbert Wiener constructed a probability measure (now called the Wiener measure) on the space of continuous functions under which the entire paths of Brownian motion could be regarded as random functions and the probabilities of certain sets of these paths could be calculated. It was the first concrete example of a stochastic process and the beginning of the modern theory.Wiener introduced the famous Wiener-Hopf equation to solve the prediction problem.
The importance of technical education: Wiener and Mahalanobis made substantial contributions to technical education and institution building.
Support for Indian development:
An enthusiasm for the practical application of mathematics: Wiener saw mathematics as a way to state the essential and bury the inessential. Bringing a world-famous scientist, mathematician and engineer who could directly communicate with ISI’s staff and students.he hoped that advanced industrial technology would provide India an alternate path of development. ‘The automatic factory makes its demands on human efforts not at the bottom but at the very high level of the scientist-engineer and at the relatively high level of the small group of highly skilled trouble shooters and maintenance workers.

[1] J.K. Ghosh, et al., “Evolution of statistics in India,”International Statistical Review, vol. 67, no. 1, pp. 13-34, 1999.
[2] Norbert Wiener and Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis Technology and nation-building in post-Independence India.
[3] Impact of Wiener on India

Raghu Krishnapuram,
Robert Bosch Centre for Cyber-Physical Systems,
Indian Institute of Science,
Bengaluru (IISc).
Profile : Biography
Anandi Giridharan,
– Principal Research Scientist,
Dept. of Electrical Communication Engineering,
Indian Institute of Science,
Bengaluru (IISc).
Profile: Biography
M G P L Narayana,
– Formerly Vice President & Chief Scientist,
Tata Consultancy Services [TCS].
Biography: Narayana Mandaleeka, in short called by friends and colleagues as ‘MGPL’ is a cybernetician works was out of Tata Consultancy Services, Hyderabad, India. He has been working in Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) since 1982. He led business development activities for TCS in Silicon Valleyin California , during to Dot-Com era.

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