A New Kind of Science

April 14, 2004
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Barnum 008


Starting from a few computer experiments, Stephen Wolfram has spent more than twenty years developing a new approach to science, described for the first time in his book A NEW KIND OF SCIENCE. Basic to his approach is the idea of studying not traditional mathematical equations but instead rules of the kind embodied in the simplest computer programs. A key discovery is that such rules can lead to behavior that shows immense complexity and mirrors many features seen in nature. Wolfram has built on this 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. Wolfram's presentation will cover some of the key ideas and discoveries in his book, outlining their implications, and discussing their personal and historical context.