Lecture by Stephen Wolfram

(creator of Mathematica, author of A New Kind of Science , and CEO of Wolfram Research, Inc.)

4:30pm Wednesday, 18 September in the Grand Ballroom, Stamp Student Union


Short Abstract: Stephen Wolfram will describe ideas and discoveries from his book, A NEW KIND OF SCIENCE, their implications for various fields of science, and their personal and historical context. An extended question and answer period will be included.

Short Bio: Stephen Wolfram is the creator of Mathematica and the author of A NEW KIND OF SCIENCE. Having had a distinguished academic career beginning at an early age, Stephen Wolfram founded Wolfram Research in 1986, and has been its CEO since.

Longer Abstract: 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. When Wolfram's book was released on May 14, 2002, it became an instant bestseller, and is now showing many signs of initiating a major paradigm shift in science. 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. An extended question and answer period will be included.

Longer Bio: 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---now the world's leading software system for technical computing and symbolic programming (and tool which made A NEW KIND OF SCIENCE possible). Over the past decade Wolfram has divided his time between leadership of his company and pursuit of basic science. Presenting for the first time the results from his past fifteen years of work, Wolfram's book A NEW KIND OF SCIENCE was released on May 14, 2002, and became an instant bestseller.