Speaker: Stephen Wolfram, Creator of Mathematica, author of A New Kind of Science, and CEO of Wolfram Research, Inc.
Title: A New Kind of Science
Date: February 18, 2005 1:00 - 2:30pm
Location: Multi-Purpose Room, Busch Campus Center, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ
Lecture followed by a brief question and discussion period.
*No fee or registration required for attending the lecture
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 computer program rules of the simplest kind instead of mathematical equations. 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. Recognizing the controversial and thought-provoking nature of A NEW KIND OF SCIENCE, an extended question and answer period will be provided in which the speaker will encourage the audience to participate.
Stephen Wolfram was educated at Eton, Oxford, and Caltech, receiving his Ph.D. in theoretical physics in 1979 at the age of 20. His early work in physics and computer science was recognized by a MacArthur award in 1981. In the early 1980s he made a series of now-classic discoveries about systems known as cellular automata, leading to numerous applications in physics, mathematics, computer science, biology, and other fields. In 1986 he founded Wolfram Research, Inc. and began the creation of Mathematica---a widely used software system for technical computing and symbolic programming. Over the past decade Wolfram has divided his time between leadership of his company and pursuit of basic science.