Scientist and entrepreneur Stephen Wolfram will give a presentation based on his most recent book, A New Kind of Science, at 4 p.m. Nov. 6 in Graham Chapel for the Assembly Series.
Publishing his first scientific paper at 15 and receiving a doctorate in theoretical physics at 20, Wolfram’s early scientific work produced important discoveries. In recognition of his contributions to physics and computing, he received a MacArthur “genius” grant in 1981, allowing him to embark upon an ambitious new direction in science to decipher the origins of complexity in nature.
Throughout the early 1980s, Wolfram laid the groundwork for the new field of “complex systems research,” and in 1986 he founded the first research center and the first journal in this emerging field.
After a successful academic career at California Institute of Technology, Princeton University and the University of Illinois, Wolfram launched Wolfram Research Inc., a software development company.
The firm’s first major success was the creation of “Mathematica” software, which allows scientists to move quickly through extremely complex mathematical operations in a very short time. More than 1 million people use Mathematica, and it has made Wolfram Research the world’s leading technical software company.
The Mathematica computer program aided Wolfram in his new research and helped him make a discovery that was key to his new theory of science: The most complex systems in the universe arose from a few simple building blocks or patterns.
His new theory is laid out in detail in A New Kind of Science (2002), a tome that describes in detail — and in an accessible style that even nonscientists can understand — how he believes nature generates the complexity around us through a few simple programming rules.
Wolfram also is the author of The Mathematica Book (1999), Cellular Automata and Complexity: Collected Papers (1994), and Computation Theory of Cellular Automata (1984), among others.
Wolfram’s appearance for the Assembly Series will follow his opening presentation at the Fourth International Conference on Systems Biology on the Medical Campus.
Assembly Series talks are free and open to the public. For more information, call 935-4620 or go online to wupa.wustl.edu/assembly.