StuCo: GEB

In this class, we will have some fun with the first half of Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. In an intriguing manner, it blends the mathematical logic with the perceptual world (art, music), philosophy with metaphilosophy.

When and where: Fridays 18:30~19:50 at Porter Hall A18A

Instructor: Fei Peng (fpeng1)

Course website and syllabus

Textbook (if it's not yet obvious...)

Our textbook is Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, around $13 at Amazon.


Each week, the students are expected to read a dialogue (usually 4~6 pages) between the chapters, and/or answer several questions. The required questions should take <30min, although the extra-credit ones can be much harder.


Curiosity and creativity are essential keys to do well in this course. The assignment is meant to be anything but mechanical - if the student effectively convinces that s/he gets it, it's good. Students will have direct access to their grade makeup.

Students get two kinds of points: P (points) and NP (noncritical points). Ps are rewarded for completing the necessary parts such as reading and attendence, and NPs are rewarded for solving more challenging questions.

There are a total of 600P and xNP possible. 360P is needed to Pass the course.


Students can, at any point, convert their Ps to NPs, or the other way around, following the following rule:

Note that at 400P, if a student trades 200P for NP, s/he will just get 200NP, so it's probably wiser to first trade 100P and then trade the other 100P at a better exchange rate.

Warning: Conversions are irreversible. Think before you act!


Universities are in general vibrant communities, places of tremendous vitality and richness that offer abundant opportunities for meaningful work and play. This abundance brings with it the challenge of maintaining a healthy, balanced life – a life characterized by productive tension among such competing needs as work and play, sleep and wakefulness, solitude and sociability. All members of university communities – students, staff, and faculty – have the responsibility to promote balance in their lives by making thoughtful choices.

Balanced choices flow from an understanding that human flourishing requires the fulfillment of very real physical, emotional, spiritual, and social needs.

Balanced choices flow from an understanding that failure is part of the road to success in all endeavors, whether academic, extracurricular, or social. The diligent pursuit of success in the long term will not preclude failures in the short term. Conversely, unrealistic expectations of success in the short term can compromise both health and long-term success if basic human needs are neglected.

Balanced decision-making flows from an understanding that short-term imbalances are inevitable. Short-term decisions must respond to immediate context, but those decisions are forming longer-term patterns of healthfulness. Balance requires an ability to discern how long an imbalance may safely persist.

Balance results from two skills: avoiding imbalance through careful planning, and managing and containing imbalance when it occurs.

From John Paul Ito's website