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Boole, Shannon, and the Challenge of Data Science: a Statistical Physics Perspective

Marc Mezard (Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris, France)


In 1854, in his treatise on the Laws of Nature, George Boole had stated a clear goal : « to investigate the fundamental laws of those operations of the mind by which reasoning is performed ». This led him to study the foundations of logic and of probabilities. A century later, Claude Shannon opened the way to a mathematical understanding of information and of its communication.

The fields of research initiated by these two giants play a major role in contemporary science, and in particular in the handling of large amounts of data, and in the extraction of information out of these data. However, in large-size problems, collective phenomena of the type studied in statistical physics, like phase transitions, start to play a major role. This talk will study the importance of phase transitions in some core problems of Boolean logics and of information theory, with a special focus on the importance of glassy phases.