xkcd: self-descriptive comic

Today’s xkcd comic is very nice. It looks very simple, but must have been quite hard to make:

xkcd self description

My first association was with ‘autograms’, self-descriptive sentences. A specific type of these, self-enumerating pangrams, were made famous (for very small values of famous) by Douglas Hofstadter, Rudy Kousbroek (a Dutch linguist and essayist) and Lee Sallows (a British electronics engineer that has lived in the Netherlands for quite some time (still?) and seems to be quite absent from the web).If you read the mouse-over, the tribute to the trio of geniuses is obvious.

Here is some background reading, this is also discussed in Hofstadter’s ‘Metamagical Themas‘ (and ‘Gödel, Escher, Bach‘ too, I believe) and in Kousbroek’s ‘De logologische ruimte‘.


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