Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Birth of WolframAlpha

WolframAlpha has arrived.

The past day has seen the launch of the next step in the evolution of computing. A Computational Knowledge Engine. Stephen Wolfram, a leading scientist in mathematics, computing and cellular automata is the brains behind WolframAlpha.

You can ask WolframAlpha anything about stocks, geology, mathematics, science, health, words, baseball statistics, weather, currency and metric conversions. Pretty much anything. All in one place. If it is known and factual, WolframAlpha knows about it.
This is a step way beyond Google or even Wikipedia. It really is a combination of those two and a calculator, dictionary, share price watcher, weather watcher and so much more.

A New Kind of Science is behind the stunning images seen here, created with cellular automata's, the very same programming that is behind WolframAlpha.

Basically the complexity we see in everything around us, from plant and bone growth to the shape of the universe or patterns on a woven rug all come from very basic programs. Remember Chaos Theory and Mandelbrot sets in the Eighties? That was complexity coming from complex initial conditions. With this new intuition, it is simple programs that are responsible for the complexity we see around us. It's an exciting thought. Simplicity.

Mandelbrot set

The New kind of Science book spells it all out clearly. Over a thousand pages and 250,000 words worth of his new 'intuition'. I'm about half way through it and I can't put it down.
The patterns that are created and the way they are created is fascinating. Especially as an artist. If you are interested in the growth of plants or the origins of patterns and puzzles, or ideas that challenge Natural Selection then check out Wolfram and The New Kind of Science.