View Full Version : A New Kind of Science?
So, has anyone read Stephen Wolfram's book?:m:
If not, he mainly argued that Cellular Automata would revolutionize science.
"Wolfram uses his approach to tackle a remarkable array of fundamental problems in science, from the origins of apparent randomness in physical systems, to the development of complexity in biology, the ultimate scope and limitations of mathematics, the possibility of a truly fundamental theory of physics, the interplay between free will and determinism, and the character of intelligence in the universe."
Complexity from basic rules. Rambling? A mere empirical deduction? What are your comments on this book?
A group in my school will have an interview with him next week. The guy is a genious and even though many have criticized his books, he is still very able to answer to many questions, from mathematics, topology, AI, computers...etc. Any suggestions for a nice question?:)
A simple, elegant solution.
(Now what have I been bothering about so many years?) One does not see much need in getting up:
there is neither bed nor body.
11-09-03, 11:05 PM
Could someone first explain how his new kind of mathematics works. From what I heard, he believes that a small pattern done over and over again with a few differences here and there is what can create very complex structures, like living things and what not. Is this something kinda like "logo" that old computer program that made all sorts of crazy designs if you let the cursor keep on repeating certain directions?
Cellular automata are cells that are in a regular array. Each cell reads the value of its neighbors and outputs it own value, which, of course its neighbors read.
Wolfram has done a complete job on this topic. It turns out that all these automata are just numbers. That was more are less shown in the book. His idea of the universal computer or whatever, was vague and unprogrammable. All in all, I thought the book was a waste of time.
11-11-03, 11:54 AM
I've only gone through the first few hundred pages so far. The guy repeats things a lot. Definitely doesn't have the kind of mind for writing books. However, I liked how he was able to study nature directly through computer programs, ie. cellular automata, mobile automata, subsititution systems, Touring machines, etc. All of his discoveries were made doing his own computer experiments.
Rayview, I don't know what "logo" is.. wait, I think I might, (You give it instructions and when you execute them, they do it all over the screen) but I'm pretty sure that's not an example of cellular automata.
Cellular automata are discrete dynamical systems whose behaviour is completely specified in terms of a local relation. A cellular automaton can be thought of as a stylised universe. Space is represented by a uniform grid, with each cell containing a few bits of data; time advances in discrete steps and the laws of the "universe" are expressed in, say, a small look-up table, through which at each step each cell computes its new state from that of its close neighbours. Thus, the system's laws are local and uniform.
Stephen Wolfram worked with a one-dimensional variant of von Neumann's cellular automata; this was fully horizontal and occurred on a single file line. Each cell touched only two other cells, its 2 immediate meighbours on either side, and each succeeding generation was represented by the line underneath the preceeding one. However, other configurations broke up into relatively disordered patterns, resembling video noise, but sometimes scattered with inverted triangles.
An example..mmm triangles :p
11-11-03, 09:01 PM
I have a question for Wolfram. Can you ask him if he believes in Ockham's Razor and why?
By the way, what school do you attend?
alright curiousgene, I'll ask the question :)
I am taking a CA class now in a school in Minnesota.
11-12-03, 10:05 AM
I am eagerly waiting for your reply. I am not sure what any answer might mean, but the question is interesting nonetheless.
I myself, tend not to always default to Ockham's razor. Consequently, I view with healthy skepticism any most-parsimonious scenario resulting from parsimony algorithms.
so the interview was very very cool :)
Wolfram was very kind with our class and he seemed a lot humbler than what he appeared to be in his book. He also showed that he was not certain about some key points that he discusses in his book such as a definition of Life or the really practical application of CAs. What was amazing was that he was so passionate when talking about his subject, maybe if we got more people that are passionate like that some progress could be made in different fields but anyway...
CuriousGene, I couldnt ask the question; I was assigned with the Theories of the universe set of questions of the interview for which he he offered views on his treatment of neural networks. I searched on the Ockham's razor though, and it was quite a cool notion, you should start a thread about it.
The book is great. I have read half way through it. I am using part of my understanding in my work in Complexity Science. The problem is until I come across a real life issue, I do not connect the solution and explanation to any practical applications. When connected, they work great in solving highly complex issues that otherwise take too long to solve.
01-26-04, 06:15 PM
so is the book worth buying...i wanted to but i'm low on funds and i wanted teh Gary Flake:Computational Beauty of Nature book first and some gaming books
It depends what you are going to use it for. If you are into Complexity Science and its application in your daily life (job or personal) then it could be worth it. I recommend first a text book called "Business Dynamics" by Sterman (MIT has a PhD course in it) to understand Systems Thinking and application. Then the book - New kind of science which is related but more into the origin of events, the ab initio thing.
The book covers every esoteric math out there - simply because, it attempts at the theory of everything. I use the Systems Dynamic part with respect to the design of Connected Enterprise and Global Business Dynamics. You must first learn "Systems Thinking" before reading the book - otherwise you will get bored.
03-22-04, 03:53 AM
The book can be found online at:
The subject is very controversial,as a matter of fact the scientific community has met Wolfram's claims with skepticism,indeed there are not sufficient reasons now to think that his cellular automata 'theory of everything' can qualify as a scientific hypothesis (no potentially testable predictions),at most it is a mathematical tool which could prove once to be of help to scientists,even if only from a purely pragmatic point of view,by 'working' for all our practical purposes.So,to cool down a little the enthusiasm,it's better to read also what skeptics have to say here (http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&selm=b9401f8a.0302062325.194d0c8d%40posting.google .com).
It is just a book. It is not like Firestone Tire that you may be sorry if you bought it and something happened. Just get it from the library and read it - if you can not afford to buy one. I just bought a textbook called "Business Dynamics" by Sterman (MIT). May be you have to read the textbook first before reading the door stopper.
The point Wolfram is making may not be apparent for atleast 30 years.
03-22-04, 12:16 PM
not really into business? bu that title "BUsiness Dynamics" might not be what it says.
And yes I study chaos/complexity/dynamical systems in computational neuroscience/cogniscience.
03-27-04, 07:55 PM
complex structures out of simple commands is not a new thing. the problems are related to the n/p class of problems in that there is no way to predetermine what you will have.
cellular automata have a lot of uses but are not an answer to all computations. one of the most familiar cellular automatas is conways game of life.. one of the more complex would be simulations of fluidic flow.
all suffer from what the common man calls the butterfly effect.. something that reality has no problem with but computers that are required to round out numbers do. it is the mark of a chaotic system in that small differences in starting conditions can lead to wide variations later on. this limits cellular automata as a simulation tool.
there is no reason to think that this one computer science technique in and of itself will rock the world any more than a lot of other real good computer techniques that people work with.
ps cellular automata are not capable of random number generation. no deterministic machine is capable of generating true random numbers.. the numbers are pseudorandom.. and after a time fall into a pattern.. though that time can be very very long. all the series can be repeated if you can rerun the conditions (including setting the clock to the same value it was at when you started and picking up the seed)
03-27-04, 09:45 PM
no natural machine is capable of producing pure random numbers
cellular automata are not capable of random number generation. no deterministic machine is capable of generating true random numbers.. the numbers are pseudorandom.. and after a time fall into a pattern.. though that time can be very very long. all the series can be repeated if you can rerun the conditions (including setting the clock to the same value it was at when you started and picking up the seed)
Does that mean there are many earths and many sciforums out there repeating themselves endlessly. Only if we could connect....:D
03-28-04, 05:46 AM
Theory has it Kmguru that there would be other universe with other sciforums, each universe with only a little difference as they are closely connected with the one next to them (Imagine it as a fractal pattern forever evolving, without any large Stop gaps, because the universes have Interconnecting Quantum Transformation. Btw, thats Transformation in the same sense as how games programmers take a shape on a screen and redefine where it exists within a universe they create.)
This means you could theoretically connect with those close to you, but to generate an overall multiversal wide connection you would have to work out some pyramidic structure of paradoxes that interconnect each universe with a "Few" others and can "Relay" across the whole.
A year after I joined sciforums (exosci?) I have been having dreams connecting to parallel universes in many occasions. I have posted a few here in the pseudoscience section. The interesting part is that the events in my dream are all possibilities yet there are differences. My normal senses say that my own mind made up such fantastic stories for my own ameusement. There is always that nagging feeling that what if after millions of years of evolution, our mind has a quantum aspect (psychologists are beginning to take notice) that tunnels through the 4-D neutral space?
It could also be that our answer is with the dark energy and gravity waves that pass to other branes...anyway...it is fun to speculate....
03-28-04, 08:58 PM
Here's a interesting site that deals with fractals something similar to what he is talking about but not quite the same thing. They do use a random generating sequencer to do what they do though. It is free, enjoy.