Asaf Karagila
I don't have much choice...

Bonus questions

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With most people under quarantine, I spent some time going over older files in my computer. Exercise sheets, notes, whatever. Several years ago, when I was a teaching assistant for Itay Kaplan on Mathematical Logic 2 (incompleteness and basic model theory), I had put "bonus questions" in most homework sheets. Here are a few, translated from Hebrew.

(Week 2, arithmetic hierarchy, \(\beta\)-function)

In a single paragraph, analyse the squire's approach to the existential crisis of the knight, Antonius Block, in Ingmar Bergman's "The Seventh Seal". What is the role of the knight's wife in support and contrast to the squire's?

(Week 3, recursive functions and the arithmetic hierarchy)

Explain in a single paragraph how Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven" is a film marking the end of classic westerns, and explain the role of the writer's character in depicting our perception of westerns up to that point. Find parallels between this film, and Sergio Leone's influences on the American western genre.

(Week 4, internalising logic)

Explain in a few sentences how the third movie in The Matrix Trilogy represents the struggle between free choice and determinism. Who is winning this struggle, and why? How do the explanations given by The Oracle justify this result?

(Week 5, primitive recursive functions)

What are the influences of "Blade Runner" and "Mad Max: The Road Warrior" on the dystopian cyberpunk genre? What are the differences between these two dystopian futures, and explain which one you'd rather live in.

(Week 6, URM and universal functions)

In the Coen Brothers film "A Serious Man" the protagonist, Larry Gopnik, sees three rabbis. Explain the differences between the rabbis' approaches and Larry's story, and how the age of each rabbi influences their approach. In what sense can this be seen as the change that may occur in the religious beliefs through a person's life?

(Week 7, recursively enumerable sets, truth predicates)

Explain the importance of the baby at the end of Akira Kurosawa's "Rashomon".

(Week 8, Robinson's theory, recursive interpretation, undecidable theories)

The eponymous character in the Coen Brothers film, "Barton Fink", is often shot from a slightly low angle. How does this match Barton's personality?

(Week 9, recursive separation, decidable theories)

Compare the Joker's character, from Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight", to Anton Chigurh, from the Coen Brothers' "No Country For Old Men". Consider the path of destruction these characters leave in their wake, and they way they are consistent with their internal morals.

(Week 10, models of PA, ultrafilters)

Compare between "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Winds" and "Princess Mononoke", consider in this comparison the general themes of the films, as well as Hayao Miazaki's approach to the subject matter. Observe the difference between the protagonists' approaches to environmentalism.

The other weeks had no relevant bonus questions (there were 12 weeks). I hope these will inspire you to watch some of these films, and contemplate.

Wash your hands!


There are 2 comments on this post.

By Hanul Jeon
(Apr 06 2020, 20:31)

Is there any student who tried to answer the bonus questions? Had I been some of the students, I could answer none of them as my experience in movies and animes are extremely scarce. What I can do is mumbling criticisms that are available on Twitter :P.

By Asaf Karagila
(Apr 07 2020, 08:30 In reply to Hanul Jeon)

I don't remember any students seriously answering any of these questions, actually. But the goal was to prompt them to watch good cinema and contemplate... and I'm not quite sure if that worked too. Maybe this blog post will help. :-)

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