Monday, April 11, 2005
A review of 1.8% of a massive Egotistical work
In the Relations to Other Areas portion of Chapter 1, the full import of the book is presented for all readers to appreciate:
- Mathematics - ..there are actually a vast range of abstract systems based on simple programs that traditional mathematics has never considered.....And indeed the core of this book can be viewed as introducing a major generalization of mathematics - with new ideas and methods, and vast new areas to be explored.
- Physics - ...with the approach of thinking in terms of simple programs that I develop in this book it finally seems possible to make some dramatic progress.
- Biology - But the discoveries in this book show that simple programs can produce a high level of complexity.
- Social Sciences - But I suspect that one will often have a much better chance of capturing fundamental mechanisms for phenomena in the social sciences by using instead the new kind of science that I develop in this book based on simple programs.
- Computer Science - But in this book what I show is that even systems with extremely simple construction can yield behavior of immense complexity.
- Philosophy - But my discoveries in this book lead to radically new intuition.
- Art - But looking through this book it becomes clear that even a program that may have extremely simple rules will often be able to generate pictures that have striking aesthetic qualities...often unlike anything ever seen before.
- Technology - But what the discoveries in this book now show is that by using the types of rules embodied in simple programs one can capture many of the essential mechanisms of nature...I have little doubt that within a matter of a few decades what I have done will have led to some dramatic changes in the foundations of technology.
Hands down the most egotistical into to a book I've ever read - topping even Codd's ego. I'm guessing that after spending 10 years working on his magnum opus, Wolfram felt obliged to insert every insight he possessed into it. The 5 pages exerted above could easily have been condensed into 1 paragraph - complex phenomenon in nature are caused by simple underlying patters - how hard would that have been?
Newsweek's review implied that Wolfram expected to enter the pantheon of Newton, Darwin, and others of equal stature. The first 22 pages of egoism belie that expectation. Not sure if how many of the remaining 1175 pages I'll slog through, so will leave the last word to leander's review on Amazon:
There are three big problems with this book (1) He pretends to present new, big ideas, but instead just re-hashes old concepts; (2) He has a huge ego and refuses to acknowledge others who have walked before him; and (3) the book is virtually impossible to read.