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Re: Wolfram's Blind Alley?
Posted:
Jun 29, 2002 8:10 PM


On Fri, 21 Jun 2002 15:11:09 GMT Doug Wedel <dougwedel@yahoo.com> wrote:
<! Wolfram's Blind Alley?
In a review of A New Kind of Science at NewScientist.com, Steven Wolfram 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 lots of other people interested. The whole topic of complexity got very popular. I even began a journal and a research centre. But people understood only part of what I'd done."
Indeed, apart from his work in *applied* mathematics (i.e. Mathematica), Wolfram's pursuit of deep theoretical insights seems to have been (thus far) largely a failure. When Wolfram was at the Princeton Institue for Advanced Studies, the luminaries there (eg. Freeman Dyson) became deeply disechanted with Wolfram's almost theological devotion to cellular automata as the key to everything (Dyson regards ANKOS as junk science). Later, after his departure from Princeton, Wolfram managed to stimulate the eager young minds at the Santa Fe Institute to take up his new theology. Chris Langton and 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 now been largely dropped, and that Wolfram's ideas bore only bitter fruit.
Perhaps eager young scientists everywhere should take this depressing experience as a cautionary warning: Wolfram's Elysian Field of a new kind of science, of replacing math with CAs, of fourline programs that explain the universe, may be pure illusion. >
Isn't computer science a mere production of strings we somehow knew before?
A good example of energy preserving.
Greetings M. Kirszbraun



