Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Principia Mathematica III": Interview with Stephen Wolfram. Interviewed by Marcus Chown. New Scientist, 25 August 2001, pages 44-47.

Physicist and computer entrepreneur Stephen Wolfram is finally publishing the fruits of his research of the past twenty years. His book, A New Kind of Science, is due to be published by Wolfram Media in October 2001 (and in January 2002 in the United Kingdom). Wolfram's basic idea is that simple computer programs, rather than mathematical equations, provide a much better infrastructure for modeling nature. Pursuit of this idea was one motivation for his development of Mathematica, a software environment for technical computing of all kinds, including sophisticated mathematical calculations and production of graphics. In the interview, Wolfram says, "I've amassed a huge amount of evidence for my idea that simple programs---like cellular automata---are the key to lots of important phenomena in nature." Asked whether he has discovered the simple program that is generating the universe, Wolfram replies: "Not yet. But I have found increasing evidence that it exists. It could be as simple as a few lines of Mathematica code."

--- Allyn Jackson