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A mathematician looks at wolfram’s new kind of science

By Lawrence Gray, A New, Kind Science and Stephen Wolfram


his self-proclaimed masterpiece, A New Kind of Science (hereinafter referred to as ANKS). Published by Wolfram’s own company, the 1,280-page volume contains his thoughts on everything from the physics of the universe to the mysteries of human behavior, all based on the results of several years of analyzing the graphical output of some very simple computer programs. The scope of the book is impressive, covering a bewildering variety of mathematical models and illustrated by 973 high-resolution black and white pictures. There are whole chapters devoted to biology, physics, and human perception, with shorter sections touching on such unexpected subjects as free will and extraterrestrial art. The extensive historical and technical notes at the end of the book (349 pages of small print) provide fascinating background material. The primary mathematical focus of the book is a class of discrete-time dynamical systems called cellular automata, or “CAs”. (See the next section for definitions and examples.) Back in the 1980s, Wolfram introduced several ideas that had a significant impact on CA research, and he also discovered a number of specific CAs with intriguin

Year: 2003
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