Summary of The Man Who Tried to Redeem the World with Logic

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In this bittersweet tale of a boy genius who ran away and became a great scientist, physics writer Amanda Gefter warmly describes Walter Pitts and his pioneering work in the field of cybernetics. The characters are brilliant but relatable – the vulnerable Pitts, the freewheeling Warren McCulloch, and the fatherly Norbert Wiener. Gefter also succeeds in making sense of complex logical problems and the mathematical solutions Pitts undertook. The heartbreaking conclusion is a reminder that falling short of your goal doesn’t necessarily equal failure. getAbstract recommends this powerful vignette to lovers of science and philosophy.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How homeless runaway Walter Pitts gained prominence in the scientific community;
  • How Pitts and philosopher Warren McCulloch contributed to modern understanding of computing and artificial intelligence; and
  • Why, in spite of his success, Pitts thought he had failed.

About the Author

Amanda Gefter is a physics writer. She wrote Trespassing on Einstein's Lawn: A Father, a Daughter, the Meaning of Nothing and the Beginning of Everything.



Born in a rough area of Detroit, Walter Pitts (1923-1969) taught himself languages, mathematics and logic at the town library. At age 12, he read the Principia Mathematica, a three-volume work that uses pure logic to explain mathematics, then wrote to tell its co-author Bertrand Russell about...

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