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Physics and computer science genius Stephen Wolfram, whose Mathematica computer language launched a multimillion-dollar company, now sets his sights on a more daunting goal: understanding the universe. A New Kind of Science is a gorgeous, 1,280-page tome more than a decade in the making. With patience, insight, and self-confidence to spare, Wolfram outlines a fundamental new way of modelling complex systems.
On the frontier of complexity science since he was a boy, Wolfram is a champion of cellular automata--256 "programs" governed by simple non-mathematical rules. He points out that even the most complex equations fail to accurately model biological systems, but the simplest cellular automata can produce results straight out of nature--tree branches, stream eddies, and leopard spots, for instance. The graphics in A New Kind of Science show striking resemblance to the patterns we see in nature every day.
Wolfram wrote the book in a distinct style meant to make it easy to read, even for non-techies; a basic familiarity with logic is helpful but not essential. Readers will find themselves swept away by the elegant simplicity of Wolfram's ideas and the accidental artistry of the cellular automaton models. Whether or not Wolfram's revolution ultimately gives us the keys to the universe, his new science is absolutely awe-inspiring. --Therese Littleton
Galileo proclaimed that nature is written in the language of mathematics, but Wolfram would argue that it is written in the language of programs and, remarkably, simple ones at that. A scientific prodigy who earned a doctorate from Caltech at age 20, Wolfram became a Nobel-caliber researcher in the emerging field of complexity shortly thereafter only to abscond from academe and establish his own software company (which published this book). In secrecy, for over ten years, he experimented with computer graphics called cellular automata, which produce shaded images on grid patterns according to programmatic rules (973 images are reproduced here). Wolfram went on to discover that the same vastly complex images could be produced by even very simple sets of rules and argues here that dynamic and complex systems throughout nature are triggered by simple programs. Mathematical science can describe and in some cases predict phenomena but cannot truly explain why what happens happens. Underscoring his point that simplicity begets complexity, Wolfram wrote this book in mostly nontechnical language. Any informed, motivated reader can, with some effort, follow from chapter to chapter, but the work as a whole and its implications are probably understood fully by the author alone. Had this been written by a lesser scientist, many academics might have dismissed it as the work of a crank. Given its source, though, it will merit discussion for years to come. Essential for all academic libraries. [This tome is a surprise best seller on Amazon. Ed.] Gregg Sapp, Science Lib., SUNY at Alban.
- Gregg Sapp, Science Lib., SUNY at Albany
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
I have a lot of respect for Wolfram. He has accomplished amazing things...but this book...Seriously Stephen, could be a lot simpler and straight to the point. Read morePublished 2 days ago by shahster
I didn't know it was that huge, kind of war and peace for maths or science.
Im reading it actually, very interesting!
Stephen Wolfram is making a lot of noise about his "new kind of science," and the revolutionary impact it will have. Read morePublished on July 16 2004
Given that you bothered to read these reviews, you probably should buy the book.
Wolfram's either on to something or he's not. I don't know and don't care. Read more
The lack of proper reference to those minds that have studied and articulated complexity and cellular automata gives the impression that Wolfram solely thought up and now presents... Read morePublished on June 22 2004 by LeGrande Blount
This book is barely better than a master thesis. It is not revolutionary (despite the fact that the author insists it is original) nor brilliant. Read morePublished on June 8 2004 by Andre Caldas
Hi, my last review of this book had the title "A New Kind of Plagiarism", since then, very knowledgeable people have pinpointed with exactitude were the plagiarism was (almost the... Read morePublished on May 26 2004 by Jhon Shonest
It seems Wolfram bashing has become a sport for weak minds. Sure he leaves himself open to criticism for not having stayed quite so engaged with his peers during the decade it took... Read morePublished on May 23 2004 by Tony Smith
Having browsed through the book -no proper thorough reading, I admit- and the various reviews, I find here a similarity with that well known 2nd class author. Read morePublished on March 3 2004