bee_rider
My favorite bit of trivia about von Neumann is that, in between basically going around an inventing the scaffolding for like half of modern science and technology he invented… Mergesort? What a mundane little algorithm to be invented by such a genius.

It is the best sorting algorithm though. It is the most elegant, no weird edge cases, and stable.

corvus-cornix
They never mention the economist he collaborated with in inventing game theory: Oskar Morgenstern. There were also collaborators involved in developing "Von Neumann" architecture. He was just the biggest name involved. He was a genius, but there's some politics at work in who is remembered for collaborative intellectual work.
kristianp
The subtitle of this article "How the game theory of John von Neumann transformed the 20th century." isn't addressed in this article unless briefly in passing. Poor editing (if that's the word for it).

This part is intriguing: > In his Theory of Self-Reproducing Automata (published posthumously in 1966), von Neumann went even further, describing the conditions under which, with no more than eight parts (four structural and four dedicated to logical operations), complex creatures could emerge capable of executing any type of computation and even of replicating themselves.

Von Neumann machines are a fun part of science fiction. The phrase "Hegemonic swarm" from Iain Banks comes to mind.

melling
This book has been out for several months and has been submitted many times on HN. Perhaps some of these reviews are also interesting?

https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=pastYear&page=0&prefix=fal...

epolanski
What I find interesting of Von Neumann is that he's basically history's last true polymath, an individual able to excel at multiple loosely related fields.

After Von Neumann the world might have produced several other geniuses, but the amount of knowledge required to excel in so many different fields is now so huge that I can't think of any such person.

voldacar
It is a serious indictment of our culture that we are not trying to clone von Neumann or even just sequence his genome. His genetic material is slowly decaying in some cemetery in New Jersey, I think.
xbar
If this article was even a little interesting to you, I strongly recommend The Man from the Future.
eimrine
Does Bitcoin algo has any connections to the game theory? I mean not blockchain only but all the thing with prices, set of constants, mining, rewarding etc.
photochemsyn
I for one am tired of the endless hagiography surrounding JvN, who while certainly a brilliant mathematician was also a certifiable wannabe architect of genocide on a massive scale. This was fairly well known a few decades ago, for example (1992):

https://www.americanheritage.com/prisoners-dilemma

> "In 1950 Life magazine quoted the great Hungarian-American physicist John Von Neumann, co-father of both the atom bomb and the digital computer, advocating immediate pre-emptive nuclear war against Russia: “If you say why not bomb them tomorrow, I say why not today? If you say today at 5 o’clock, I say why not one o’clock?” He was hardly alone. Generals and members of Congress were making the same arguments..."

The fact that all this is getting swept under the rug in this article, as well as in the obviously habiographic bibliographical treatment that it references, doesn't bode well for the future of scholarly historical research in the USA. Past treatments were far more balanced.

sr.ht