Scientist and entrepreneur Stephen Wolfram will give a presentation based on his book, A New Kind of Science, at 4 p.m. Nov. 6 in Graham Chapel for Washington University’s Assembly Series. The event is free and open to the public. Graham Chapel is located just north of Mallinckrodt Center (6445 Forsyth).
Publishing his first scientific paper at 15 and receiving his Ph.D. 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, the youngest recipient in the foundation’s history. The grant allowed 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, first at California Institute of Tehcnology, where he received his doctoral degree, then at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University, and finally as a professor of physics, mathematics and computer science at 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 one 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; that is, 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 non-scientists can understand – how he believes nature generates the complexity around us, through a few simple programming rules.
In addition to his most recent book, Wolfram is the author of The Mathematica Book (1999), Cellular Automata and Complexity: Collected Papers (1994), Computation Theory of Cellular Automata (1984), Cryptography with Cellular Automata (1985), Random Sequence Generation by Cellular Automata (1986) and Approaches to Complexity Engineering (1986).
Wolfram’s appearance for the Assembly Series follows his opening presentation at the 4th International Conference on Systems Biology on the medical school campus.
For more information about the Assembly Series lecture, call (314) 935-4620 or visit the Assembly Series Web page (http://wupa.wustl.edu/assembly).