Noam Chomsky (1928)

Noam Chomsky is a major figure in analytic philosophy and known to many as the “father of modern linguistics”.

He spent most of his career in MIT, authored over 100 books and was voted the “world’s top public intellectual” in a 2005 poll. His work has influenced fields such as artificial intelligence, cognitive science, computer science, logic, mathematics, music theory and analysis, political science, programming language theory and psychology.

His Chomsky hierarchy partitions formal grammars into classes, or groups, with increasing expressive power, i.e., each successive class can generate a broader set of formal languages than the one before. Interestingly, Chomsky argues that modeling some aspects of human language requires a more complex formal grammar (as measured by the Chomsky hierarchy) than modeling others.

Fun facts:

  • Chomsky despises the idea of biographies and holds the belief that his literature and points made within all his public manifestations, should speak for itself and need not the story or history of his life to support it or inspire it to others.
  • He looks down on ceremonial gratification, surprises and humility has rendered him disenchanted with any type of public glorification. E.g., for his birthday a collection of letters were collected from various people to Chomsky, thanking him for his work in linguistics, politics, and for effecting others educational endeavors. It was then placed without ceremony, nor much commotion, but quickly and discreetly on the man’s desk.
  • People either love or hate Chomsky, probably due to his outspoken left leaning political beliefs (anarcho-syndicalist and a socialist libertarian).[1]

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