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Topic: Wolfram's Blind Alley?
Replies: 10   Last Post: Jun 29, 2002 8:10 PM

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M. Kirszbraun

Posts: 3
Registered: 12/13/04
Re: Wolfram's Blind Alley?
Posted: Jun 29, 2002 8:10 PM
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On Fri, 21 Jun 2002 15:11:09 GMT Doug Wedel <>

Wolfram's Blind Alley?

In a review of A New Kind of Science at, Steven
describes how he followed up on his seminal idea twenty years ago
(that the
world was created by simple programs):

"I worked out lots of details and published lots of papers. And I got
of other people interested. The whole topic of complexity got very
I even began a journal and a research centre. But people understood
part of what I'd done."

Indeed, apart from his work in *applied* mathematics (i.e.
Wolfram's pursuit of deep theoretical insights seems to have been
(thus far)
largely a failure. When Wolfram was at the Princeton Institue for
Studies, the luminaries there (eg. Freeman Dyson) became deeply
with Wolfram's almost theological devotion to cellular automata as the
to everything (Dyson regards ANKOS as junk science). Later, after his
departure from Princeton, Wolfram managed to stimulate the eager young
at the Santa Fe Institute to take up his new theology. Chris Langton
others associated with that institution devoted many years to work
based on
Wolfram's classes of automata, and to the idea that life itself
emerged from
automata that were poised at the "edge of complexity".

It is my understanding (please correct me if I am wrong) that this
work has
now come to naught, that the concept of the "edge of complexity" has
been largely dropped, and that Wolfram's ideas bore only bitter

Perhaps eager young scientists everywhere should take this depressing
experience as a cautionary warning: Wolfram's Elysian Field of a new
of science, of replacing math with CAs, of four-line programs that
the universe, may be pure illusion.

Isn't computer science a mere production of strings we somehow knew

A good example of energy preserving.

M. Kirszbraun

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