Re: JOINING posts

From: Russell Standish <>
Date: Fri, 24 May 2002 09:56:19 +1000 (EST)

This is an excellent idea Wai. I guess we look up the thread called
"JOINING POST" to the info.

As for me, I studied mathematics and physics at an undergrad
level. Whilst still at high school, I was studying quantum mechanics
and general relativity, and started my science degree wanting to
research beyond these theories. By the time I finished my BSc, I had
decided that "reductionism" has gone too far, and that there was a
whole world of "mesoscale" or "complex" physics that was opening
up. As a result I moved into nonequilibrium statistical physics for my
PhD. The field of Complex Systems basically took off at this time.

At age 19, I toyed with an idea (no doubt inspired by Corewars from
Martin Gardiner's column) of evolving small self-reproducing creatures
as a means of understanding evolution. By the time I had finished my
formal requirements for entering scientific research (ie a PhD), Tom
Ray had achieved this task with Tierra. So after my PhD I got into
artificial life, and I developed my own evolutionary model called
Ecolab. As a result I've taken part in some of the big intellectual
debates of the 90s in complex systems, including self-organised
criticality as an explanation of punctuationlism, complexity trends
through evolution and explanations of diversity growth during the
history of the biosphere.

During the mid-90s I started musing over the MWI and the anthropic
principle, and realised that the univserse was not just some accident
of creation, but the result of an evolutionary process. These thoughts
finally culminated in my paper "Evolution in the Multiverse", where
the MWI is analogous to variation in Darwin's theory of evolution, and
the Anthropic principle is analogous to selection.

Whilst riding a bicycle, I would speculate on what would be happening
in the "neighbouring" universes where I was a little faster or slower,
and that car that nearly missed me actually hit me and killed me. I
realised at that time I would never know, and came up with my own
formulation of what has become known as the Quantum Theory of

About this time, David Deutsch's book Fabric of Reality appeared, which
I bought and devoured. It is truly an excellent book, although has its
failings like any work. Later, I saw the New Scientist article about
Max Tegmark, and I thought - here's someone with guts! As they say,
most of the rest is history, documented in the Everything and FOR

As a result of discussions on this list, I have written a paper "Why
Occams Razor", which develops these ensemble theories to the point of
deriving all the postulates of quantum mechanics, except the
correspondence principle. The paper was first written 2.5 years ago,
and is in its 3rd revision. It is very difficult to get this sort of
stuff published, but I'm perservering, because I suspect this will be
one of the most important papers I'll write.

I have to say I have little time for deliberate obfuscation, whether
by excessive use of obscure verbal terms, or execessive mathematical
rigour. However, I do believe that mathematical concepts and terms are
about our only chance of comprehending and communicating this subject
area. For this reason, I am disappointed at the approach the FOR list
takes of banning all mathematical description.

Relevant References:

Stuart Kauffman:
   "The Origins of Order: Self Organization and Selection in Evolution"

This is quite a well written book, curiously aside from the description of
Kauffman's own contribution to the field, the NK model. One problem is
that many readers of this book assume that Kauffman invented the whole

Murray Gell-Mann: The Quark and the Jaguar

Tom Ray's Tierra:


Li & Vitanyi (Thanks Wai Dai)

Bruno Marchal's thesis: (which I read in French, but got confused by
modal logic :)

Roy Frieden: Physics from Fisher Information

Standish, R.K. (2000) ``Evolution in the Multiverse'' Complexity
International, 7.

Standish, R.K. (2001) ``On Complexity and Emergence'' Complexity
International, 9.

Standish, R.K. (2002) ``Why Occam's Razor'' arXiv: physics/0001020

A/Prof Russell Standish Director
High Performance Computing Support Unit, Phone 9385 6967, 8308 3119 (mobile)
UNSW SYDNEY 2052 Fax 9385 6965, 0425 253119 (")
Room 2075, Red Centre
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Received on Thu May 23 2002 - 17:05:06 PDT

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