Michael E. Moody Lecture– “Category Theory: The Mad Libs of Mathematics,” Tai-Danae Bradley

April 3, 2024 Add to Calendar 7–8:30 p.m.

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Mad Libs is a fun word game, played by filling in the blanks of a story with different words: nouns, verbs, adjectives and so on. Different word choices result in different, sometimes comical, stories that are all related by a common template. In some ways, category theory can be thought of as the Mad Libs of mathematics. Originating in the 1940s, category theory provides a framework or “template” that unites many ideas, constructions and themes across the mathematical landscape. A category theoretical viewpoint can also extend to disciplines outside of mathematics, providing new ways to think about new (and old) problems. Language itself is one example, as some ideas behind today’s large language models, like ChatGPT, seem to be pleasantly compatible with existing perspectives in category theory. In this talk, Tai-Danae Bradley shares more about these tantalizing connections, starting with a friendly introduction to this modern branch of mathematics.


Tai-Danae Bradley is a research mathematician at SandboxAQ, a startup company focused on AI and quantum technologies, and a visiting research professor of mathematics at The Master's University. She earned a PhD in mathematics from the CUNY Graduate Center in 2020 and then spent time as a postdoctoral researcher at X, The Moonshot Factory (Google X). She is the creator of the mathematics blog Math3ma as well as a coauthor of the graduate-level textbook Topology: A Categorical Approach and a former co-host of the PBS YouTube channel "Infinite Series." Her research interests include category theory, machine intelligence and quantum physics.