Re: Algorithmic Revolution?

From: Russell Standish <>
Date: Thu, 21 Nov 2002 10:14:16 +1100 (EST)

There seems to be more heat that light in this discussion. There's
several things going on here:

1. A social revolution in the use of information technology (mobile
phones, internet and all that). This is beyond dispute, I believe, and
I didn't see anyone on this list disputing that.

2. A scientific revolution - use of computer simulations as a 3rd way
from theory and experiment. This is using computing technology, as
opposed to information technology, and is about 2 decades older thatn
the social revolution. Again, there is little dispute in this.

3. An epistemological revolution - a paradigm shift that sees reality
cast in terms of a computational or algorithmic metaphor. This is how
Tim May interpreted "algorithmic revolution", as did I.

4. A mathematical revolution - algorithmic information theory has been
explosive since it was founded in the mid-60s. It has profound
consequences to the roots of mathematics.

No. 3 is the type of thesis promoted by Wolfram, and goes back at
least to Konrad Zuse in the 1960s. It is worth treating with a
considerable grain of salt - it is a paradigm, as potentially wrong
as the clockwork model in the late 19th century.

No. 4 - I think the jury is still out. Practical applications of AIT
are still rather meagre compared with more traditional areas of
mathematics. But I do think it is a fascinating area of study.


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 Wed Nov 20 2002 - 18:16:15 PST

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