This morning’s name was Gil Chaitin, and that led immediately to Gregory Chaitin. Both academics, but in very different fields.

Gilbert Chaitin is Professor of French and Comparative Literature at Indiana University. A thumbnail photo and some biographical material from the dean’s site at IU:


Gil was born in Philadelphia in 1940. His mother’s family, who had come from Eastern Europe, considered France (slightly aided by Germany) as the home of art and culture, so it is hardly surprising that he should study both French and German. Nor is it surprising that after spending his junior year in Paris he was already moving toward concentrating on French, although he had begun his studies as a math and science major. He eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Princeton [Gil was in my class], and that involvement with philosophy has continued to be central to his preoccupations. In 1969 his interest in France and his fascination with other cultures led him to a Ph.D. in Romance languages and literatures with a minor in comparative literature [also from Princeton].

… Gil’s research has always focused on situating literature in its wider intellectual, historical, and cultural contexts. His first book, a study of the nineteenth-century French novelist Stendhal, drew on his interest in psychoanalysis. Rhetoric and Culture in Lacan extends that interest into the broader area of cultural contexts centering on the dominant figure of the great psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, whose revision of Freud has been so influential not just in France but internationally. Gil’s current work-in-progress explores fictional accounts of schools in Third Republic France.

Gregory Chaitin, on the other hand, is a mathematician and computer scientist.


Gregory John Chaitin (… born 15th. November, 1947 in Argentina) is an Argentine-American mathematician and computer scientist. Beginning in the late 1960s, Chaitin made contributions to algorithmic information theory and metamathematics, in particular a computer-theoretic result equivalent to Gödel’s incompleteness theorem. He is considered to be one of the founders of what is today known as Kolmogorov (or Kolmogorov-Chaitin) complexity together with Andrei Kolmogorov and Ray Solomonoff. (from Wikipedia)

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