Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Indus Script Back in the News

At the - posted at Punctuated Equilibrium
A Rosetta Stone for the Indus script
Posted by Thursday 30 June 2011 09.43 BST

How would you solve the world's oldest and most difficult crossword puzzle? Watch this video to learn how one man is approaching this challenge (over 17 minutes in length, but very well put together and paced)

Do you love a good mystery and ancient texts? Rajesh Rao sure does. He is a computational neuroscientist at my alma mater, the University of Washington in Seattle. He has devoted much of his professional life to cracking "the mother of all crossword puzzles": How to decipher the 4000 year old Indus script (example pictured; public domain). To do this, Dr Rao uses computational modeling to understand the human mind in two ways: first, he develops computer models to describe how human minds think, and then second, he applies these models to the task of deciphering the 4,000-year-old script of the Indus valley civilization. This interesting video provides a glimpse into his methods and logic:

Some of the questions that motivate Dr Rao's research include: How does the brain learn efficient representations of novel objects and events occurring in the natural environment? What are the algorithms that allow useful sensorimotor routines and behaviors to be learned? What computational mechanisms allow the brain to adapt to changing circumstances and remain fault-tolerant and robust?

You can learn more about Dr Rao's work by visiting his official departmental website.

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