Monday, October 02, 2006

My notes from A New Kind of Science by Stephen Wolfram

2 October 2006

"Throughout the book my primary concern is with basic science and fundamental issues. But building on the foundations in the book there are a vast array of applications - both conceptual and practical - that can now be developed.

No doubt some will come quickly. But most will take decades to emerge. Yet in time I expect the ideas in this books will come to pervade not only science and technology but also many areas of general thinking." (p. xi)

I hope that I can come up with some small applications using this book.
Wolfram had many collaborators from many facets of science... a very complex list.
Would be worth examining the connections in this network sometime.

Chapter 1 The Foundations for A New Kind of Science
"I did what is in a sense one of the most elementary imaginable computer experiments: I took a sequnce of simple programs and then systematically ran them to see how they behaved. And what I found - to my great surprise - was that despite the simplicity of their rules, the behavior of the program was often far from simple. Indeed, even some of the very simplest programs that I looked at had behavior that was as complex as anything I had ever seen." (p. 2)

This reminds me of my own fascination on programming the rules for John Conway's Game of Life for the first time.

"... what secret is it that allows nature seemingly so effortlessly to produce so much to us that appears to us so complex." (p. 2)

" But how these componenets act together to produce even some of the most obvious features of the overall behavior we see has in the past remained an almost complete mystery." (p. 3)

The thought here is similar to what I have heard Leroy Hood talk about regarding systems biology.

"But on the basis if many discoveries I have been led to a still more sweeping conclusion, summarized in what I call the Principle of Computational Equivalence: that whenveer one sees behaviorthat is not obviously simple - in esssentially any system - it can be thought of as corresponding to a computation of equivalent sophistication." (p. 5)

"... for across a vast range of systems, from simple programs to brains to our whole universe, the principle implies that there is a basic equivalence that makes the same fundamental phenomena occur, and allows the same basic scientific ideas and methods to be used." (p. 6-7)

Chapter 2 Crucial Experiment

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