About Douglas R. Hofstadter
Professor Hofstadter received his B.S. in mathematics from Stanford University (1965), and his M.S. and Ph.D. in physics from the University of Oregon (1972, 1975). His Pulitzer-prize-winning book Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid (1979) has had considerable impact on people in many disciplines, ranging from philosophy to mathematics to artificial intelligence, to music, and beyond. He has written four other books, numerous articles, and, for a number of years, wrote a column for Scientific American.
Hofstadter's research is driven by a long-standing interest in both creativity and consciousness. To study these abstract ideas in a concrete manner, he has focused on designing and implementing, in collaboration with his graduate students, models of high-level perception and analogical thought in carefully-designed idealized domains. Several computer programs that perceive structures and discover subtle as well as simple analogies by means of a tight interplay between concepts in long-term memory and perceptual agents in short-term memory have been realized over the years; these include Copycat, Tabletop, and LetterSpirit. Another project - Metacat, which significantly deepens Copycat by bringing in episodic memory and some degree of self-awareness - is currently well under way.
More recently Professor Hofstadter has been deeply engaged in poetry translation, and his 1997 book, Le Ton beau de Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language, touches on this issue in many diverse ways. From it came his 1999 verse translation of Alexander Pushkin's novel in verse, Eugene Onegin.
Professor Hofstadter also studies and writes about cognitive phenomena in a number of other areas. Some of these are: the relationship between words and concepts; the mechanisms underlying human error-making (especially in language); the mechanisms underlying discovery and creation in mathematics, music, and certain other domains; the relationship between analogy and translation; the challenge of sorting the wheat from the chaff in AI and cognitive science, and the philosophy of mind. Among the most important of Professor Hofstadter's recent explorations is the geometry of the triangle and the complex interrelationships between a triangle's many centers, central circles, central lines, and so forth.
He was awarded Distinguished Professor in 2007 and received the IU Bicentennial Medal in September 2020 in recognition of his distinguished contributions to Indiana University.