a new critique of ANKOS

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W. Edwin Clark

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Aug 26, 2002, 8:52:04 PM8/26/02
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A devastating review by David Drysdale can be found at

http://freespace.virgin.net/david.drysdale/wolfram/review.html

and 28 pages of detailed "notes" at

http://freespace.virgin.net/david.drysdale/wolfram/notes.html


I am still waiting for Cosma Shalizi's promised review. To see what he
has to say so far: go to his Notebook on Cellular Automata

http://www.santafe.edu/~shalizi/notebooks/cellular-automata.html

and do a search for batshit.

---Edwin Clark

James Dolan

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Aug 26, 2002, 9:55:07 PM8/26/02
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in article <3d6acd56...@math.usf.edu>,

w. edwin clark <ecl...@math.usf.edu> wrote:

|A devastating review by David Drysdale can be found at
|
|http://freespace.virgin.net/david.drysdale/wolfram/review.html
|
|and 28 pages of detailed "notes" at
|
|http://freespace.virgin.net/david.drysdale/wolfram/notes.html


offhand i doubt i would like wolfram's book any better than drysdale
does, if i could be bothered to read it, but it took me one paragraph
to decide there was no reason to bother reading anything by drysdale
either. specifically it was this paragraph of drysdale's:

|Part of the problem is Wolfram's insistance on using his own
|terminology for concepts and ideas that have perfectly good names in
|regular mathematics and science. Examples: he always referring to
|fractals as "nested" (and never makes clear whether the term includes
|less structured fractals or not), he doesn't refer to well-known
|pictures by their common name in the main text (such as the Sierpinski
|gasket or the Koch curve), he calls refers to lossy compression as
|"irreversible", he insists on using Mathematica notation rather than
|standard mathematical notation (there may indeed be a million
|Mathematica users, but there are considerably more who understand
|normal notation and don't have access to this expensive tool).


the opinions expressed in this paragraph persuade me that drysdale is
an idiot. "fractals" and "lossy compression" are silly jargon
designed to obfuscate and to create a phony in-group mystique.
"nested" and "irreversible" are perfectly good regular english names
for the concepts.


--


[e-mail address jdo...@math.ucr.edu]

Erik Max Francis

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Aug 26, 2002, 10:12:24 PM8/26/02
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James Dolan wrote:

> the opinions expressed in this paragraph persuade me that drysdale is
> an idiot. "fractals" and "lossy compression" are silly jargon
> designed to obfuscate and to create a phony in-group mystique.
> "nested" and "irreversible" are perfectly good regular english names
> for the concepts.

But totally neglecting to mention the fact that such things already have
widely-accepted and extremely common names is, to the say the least,
disingenuous. In the introductory chapters, Wolfram discusses
Lindenmayer systems at length without ever bothering to mention their
name.

Using alternate terminology in order to make a point is one thing, but
never mentioning the widely-accepted, easily-recognizeable original
terminology is annoying.

--
Erik Max Francis / m...@alcyone.com / http://www.alcyone.com/max/
__ San Jose, CA, US / 37 20 N 121 53 W / ICQ16063900 / &tSftDotIotE
/ \ There is nothing so subject to the inconstancy of fortune as war.
\__/ Miguel de Cervantes
Church / http://www.alcyone.com/pyos/church/
A lambda calculus explorer in Python.

James Dolan

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Aug 26, 2002, 10:33:42 PM8/26/02
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in article <3d6ae008...@alcyone.com>,

erik max francis <m...@alcyone.com> wrote:

|James Dolan wrote:
|
|> the opinions expressed in this paragraph persuade me that drysdale is
|> an idiot. "fractals" and "lossy compression" are silly jargon
|> designed to obfuscate and to create a phony in-group mystique.
|> "nested" and "irreversible" are perfectly good regular english names
|> for the concepts.
|
|But totally neglecting to mention the fact that such things already have
|widely-accepted and extremely common names is, to the say the least,
|disingenuous.

that's a peculiar remark to make in this context, because "nested" and
"irreversible" are the centuries-old widely-accepted and extremely
common and accurate names for the concepts.


--


[e-mail address jdo...@math.ucr.edu]

Tim Tyler

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Aug 27, 2002, 3:45:19 AM8/27/02
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James Dolan <jdo...@math-lw-n01.math.ucr.edu> wrote:
: w. edwin clark <ecl...@math.usf.edu> wrote or quoted:

: |Part of the problem is Wolfram's insistance on using his own


: |terminology for concepts and ideas that have perfectly good names in
: |regular mathematics and science. Examples: he always referring to
: |fractals as "nested" (and never makes clear whether the term includes
: |less structured fractals or not), he doesn't refer to well-known
: |pictures by their common name in the main text (such as the Sierpinski
: |gasket or the Koch curve), he calls refers to lossy compression as
: |"irreversible", he insists on using Mathematica notation rather than
: |standard mathematical notation (there may indeed be a million
: |Mathematica users, but there are considerably more who understand
: |normal notation and don't have access to this expensive tool).

: the opinions expressed in this paragraph persuade me that drysdale is
: an idiot. "fractals" and "lossy compression" are silly jargon
: designed to obfuscate and to create a phony in-group mystique.
: "nested" and "irreversible" are perfectly good regular english names
: for the concepts.

Except that "fractal" and "lossy compression" are not silly jargon - they
are perfectly good technical terms - for which "nested" and "irreversible"
would be generally regarded as poor synonyms.
--
__________
|im |yler http://timtyler.org/ t...@tt1.org

Shinji Ikari

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Aug 27, 2002, 8:23:47 AM8/27/02
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"W. Edwin Clark" <ecl...@math.usf.edu> wrote in message news:<3D6ACD56...@math.usf.edu>...
> A devastating review by David Drysdale can be found at...

Devistating in what sense? I get the distinct impressions that the
reviwer is trying to show that he is smarter than Wolfram.

Ed Pegg Jr

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Aug 27, 2002, 9:55:10 AM8/27/02
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> In the introductory chapters, Wolfram discusses
> Lindenmayer systems at length without ever bothering to mention their
> name.

See pages 893 and 1005.

Your phrase "without ever bothering to mention" could be seen as a bit
disingenuous itself. More correctly, you should have said that
Lindenmayer systems aren't mentioned until the notes for the book.

--Ed Pegg Jr.

Erik Max Francis

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Aug 27, 2002, 6:25:57 PM8/27/02
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Ed Pegg Jr wrote:

> See pages 893 and 1005.
>
> Your phrase "without ever bothering to mention" could be seen as a bit
> disingenuous itself. More correctly, you should have said that
> Lindenmayer systems aren't mentioned until the notes for the book.

True, and guilty as charged (although I thought from the context that
was clear, given a read of the critique).

But let's be serious for a second: How many people are really going to
be poring over the notes in the back? The credit is there, but it's
hidden in the intimidating last third of the book in small type. I
highly doubt that any people other than academics or reviewers would
give the notes anything other than a quick scan.

W. Edwin Clark

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Aug 28, 2002, 12:33:38 PM8/28/02
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Shinji Ikari wrote:
>
> "W. Edwin Clark" <ecl...@math.usf.edu> wrote in message news:<3D6ACD56...@math.usf.edu>...
> > A devastating review by David Drysdale can be found at...
>
> Devistating in what sense?

In sense 2 of the definition below copied from
the online: Merrian-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary:

Main Entry: dev戢s暗ate
Pronunciation: 'de-v&-"stAt
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): -tat搪d; -tat搏ng
Etymology: Latin devastatus, past participle of devastare, from de- +
vastare to lay waste -- more at WASTE
Date: 1638
1 : to bring to ruin or desolation by violent action
2 : to reduce to chaos, disorder, or helplessness : OVERWHELM
<devastated by grief> <her wisecrack devastated the class>


> I get the distinct impressions that the
> reviwer is trying to show that he is smarter than Wolfram.

And you think he's not?

Shinji Ikari

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Aug 28, 2002, 9:34:43 PM8/28/02
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"W. Edwin Clark" <ecl...@math.usf.edu> wrote in message news:<3D6CFB61...@math.usf.edu>...

> Shinji Ikari wrote:
> >
> > "W. Edwin Clark" <ecl...@math.usf.edu> wrote in message news:<3D6ACD56...@math.usf.edu>...

> > I get the distinct impressions that the


> > reviwer is trying to show that he is smarter than Wolfram.
>
> And you think he's not?

He may or may not be, that is irrelevant, but one of the critical
mistakes a reviewer can make is trying to sound smarter than the
reviewee.

Dr Chaos

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Aug 28, 2002, 10:08:42 PM8/28/02
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in truth the reviewer has more sense and understands the actual
Old Kind of Science of the not-Being-Stephen-Wolfram world.

Edwin Clark

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Aug 28, 2002, 10:14:31 PM8/28/02
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--
W. Edwin Clark
Department of Mathematics
University of South Florida
http://www.math.usf.edu/~eclark
"Shinji Ikari" <shi...@swirve.com> wrote in message
news:8cd70836.02082...@posting.google.com...

Such judgements are in the mind of the reader. To you he appears to be
trying to
show he is smarter than Wolfram. I don't get that impression at all. I think
he
just carefully read the book and is (like many other reviewers) trying to
set
the record straight.

Heck, there are even some people who don't think Wolfram is trying to make
his work sound more important than it is and is not trying to take credit
for things
he didn't originate. -----At least I heard of one such person. :-)


Stephen Harris

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Aug 28, 2002, 10:22:35 PM8/28/02
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"W. Edwin Clark" <ecl...@math.usf.edu> wrote in message
news:3D6CFB61...@math.usf.edu...

>
>
> Shinji Ikari wrote:
> >
> > "W. Edwin Clark" <ecl...@math.usf.edu> wrote in message
news:<3D6ACD56...@math.usf.edu>...
> > > A devastating review by David Drysdale can be found at...
> >
> > Devistating in what sense?

> > reviwer is trying to show that he is smarter than Wolfram.


>
> And you think he's not?

No, and it is an objective thing so the word "think" which is implies
it is a matter of opinion is inaccurate. The word "devastating" is
usually used to describe something which is painfully convincingly true.

Drysdale tends to be petty or ignorant or both. He is certainly not smart
and this example demonstrates his own superficial understanding which
he is attempting to project onto Wolfram.

Drysdale:
"p15, "Fractal Geometry": I find this description of fractal geometry
slightly misleading; the word "nested" implies a regularity about the detail
found when you change scale. However, fractal geometry is commonly
applied to shapes that have no such regular structure (for example, the
coastline of Britain-see page 1 of Mandelbrot [1982])."

Fractals are often self-similar and recursive and those are characteristics.

I agree with Dolan, that the quality of Drysdale's thinking and
education is quite suspect. The idea of nesting and self-similar
is commonly shown by using Russian Dolls; there is a regularity
about the details, but not Euclidean, which apparently confuses him.
I think it would display a lack of critical thinking to trust Drysdale's
opinions or descriptions of other Wolfram shortcomings which are
certainly more complicated than gradeschool fractal theory.

From the Drysdale review:


"Part of the problem is Wolfram's insistance on using his own
terminology for concepts and ideas that have perfectly good names
in regular mathematics and science. Examples: he always referring
to fractals as "nested" (and never makes clear whether the term

includes less structured fractals or not), ..."

Now this correction of viewpoint in the review as compared to
his notes seems more intelligent. Page 171-172 ANKOS,

"The patterns produced in this case no longer have a simple
geometrical form, but instead often exhibit an intricate structure
somewhat reminiscent of a snowflake. Yet, despite this intricacy,
the patterns still show great regularity. And indeed, if one takes
the patterns from successive steps and stacks them on top of
each other to form a three-dimensional object, as in the picture
below, then this object has a _very regular nested stucture_."*

"Examples: he always referring to fractals as "nested" (and never

makes clear whether the term includes less structured fractals or not), ..."

Wolfram says "often exhibit an intricate structure" which is the usual
way that fractals having the characteristic of self-simalarity are
described.
I mean the frequency word "often".

On page 176, Wofram says that for all the two-dimensional cellular
automata shown on the last few pages, these shapes are very regular.

"But it is nevertheless possible to find two-dimensional celllular
automata that yield _less regular shapes_. [SH: _xxx_ is my emphasis]*

Page 190: Talking about substituitions "And with this kind of setup,
it is ultimately inevitable that all the patterns produces must have a
completely regular nested structure."

Page 190: Talking about fractals: "So what does it take to get patterns
with more complicated structure? The basic answer, much as we saw
in one-dimensional substituition systems on page 85, is some form of
interaction between different elements--so that the replacement for a
particular element at a given step can depend not only on the
characteristics of that element itself, but also on the characteristics of
other neighboring elements.

But with geometrical replacement rules of the kind shown on the facing
page there is a problem with this. For elements can end up anywhere
in the plane, making it difficult to define an obvious notion of neighbors.
And the result of this has been that in _traditional fractal geometry_
the ideal of interaction between elements is not considered--so that
all patterns that are produced have a purely nested form."

Page 191: "Examples of fractal patterns produced by repeatedly
applying the geometrical rules shown for a total of 12 steps. The
_details_ of each pattern are different, but in all cases the patterns
have a nested overall structure. The presence of this nested structure
is an inevitable consequence of the fact that the rule for replacing
an element of a particular position does not depend on any way
on other elements."

Wolfram is discussing mathematically constructed fractals which
are self-similar. Some natural fractals are not. Wolfram distinguishes
between very regular nested structures and less so. I think it would
stray from his intent to describe fractal theory and quasi-self-similarity.
This book is for the layman and about cellular automata. This criticism
reminds me too of the review which lamented some 1960s paper on
an obscure topic was not cited; personal preferences far too distantly
related from the purpose of his book to interest the intended audience.

"Repetition and nesting are widespread themes in many cellular
automata. But as we saw in the previous chapter, it is also possible
for cellular automata to produce many patterns that seem in many
respects random." Page 58, ANKOS

Drysdale:


"Examples: he always referring to fractals as "nested" (and never

makes clear whether the term includes less structured fractals or not), ..."

Actually he is referring to cellular automata as nested primaily,
and when he does mention fractals, he distinguishes them. I find
this complaint reasonates at a scale considerably below Wolfram:

> > reviwer is trying to show that he is smarter than Wolfram.
>
> And you think he's not?

I think Drysdale's review has mediocre writing merit and his
reading comprehension falls short of that. I dont see how a
review can be devastating when it demonstrates so much
ineptitude, even if his comments on other issues are more accurate.
These majority of these reviewers point the finger of hubris
because their own fragile egos have been jostled. I have really
gotten tired of hearing academics whine about things they could
just shrug off. Wolfram has made it very clear that the book was
written primarily for non-academics and that he doesn't care
what academics think of it. So why dont academics ignore it?
I dont think they realize they are paying their respects to the topgun.

Regards,
Stephen


Edwin Clark

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Aug 28, 2002, 10:55:58 PM8/28/02
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"Stephen Harris" wrote

> Wolfram has made it very clear that the book was
> written primarily for non-academics and that he doesn't care
> what academics think of it.
>So why dont academics ignore it?

I am confident that most ARE ignoring it. I'm an exception since
I continue to maintain my webpage of reviews. Just cannot help
myself. Somebody sends me a link to a new review and I obsessively
have to check it out. :-)

> I dont think they realize they are paying their respects to the topgun.

Paying respects to the "topgun" by pointing out that what he has
written is neither "new" nor "science"? I don't follow that.

--Edwin


David L. Johnson

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Aug 28, 2002, 10:55:52 PM8/28/02
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Shinji Ikari wrote:
>
>>>I get the distinct impressions that the
>>>reviwer is trying to show that he is smarter than Wolfram.
>>
>>And you think he's not?
>
>
> He may or may not be, that is irrelevant, but one of the critical
> mistakes a reviewer can make is trying to sound smarter than the
> reviewee.

Part of the problem is that the author tries to convince the reader that he,
the author, is smarter than anyone else. That is annoying, and certainly
relevant to the review, especially as Wolfram does this by suggesting that
other people's ideas are his own.

--

David L. Johnson

__o | Some people used to claim that, if enough monkeys sat in front
_`\(,_ | of enough typewriters and typed long enough, eventually one of
(_)/ (_) | them would reproduce the collected works of Shakespeare. The
internet has proven this not to be the case.

Stephen Harris

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Aug 29, 2002, 6:43:18 AM8/29/02
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"Edwin Clark" <ecl...@math.usf.edu> wrote in message
news:23gb9.11661$Rx4.1...@twister.tampabay.rr.com...

>
> "Stephen Harris" wrote
>
> > Wolfram has made it very clear that the book was
> > written primarily for non-academics and that he doesn't care
> > what academics think of it.
> >So why dont academics ignore it?
>
> I am confident that most ARE ignoring it. I'm an exception since
> I continue to maintain my webpage of reviews. Just cannot help
> myself. Somebody sends me a link to a new review and I obsessively
> have to check it out. :-)
>
I think the last time a book was reviewed this often was maybe
Shadows of the Mind by Penrose.

> > I dont think they realize they are paying their respects to the topgun.
>
> Paying respects to the "topgun" by pointing out that what he has
> written is neither "new" nor "science"? I don't follow that.
>
> --Edwin
>

I mean you must have a list of 35+ reviews by now. That means each
of those guys has taken time to write a review. They must see countering
Wolfram's opinion as having some importance. That is a type of tribute.

How much time does Wolfram spend reading their books, if they've
written any, and then writing a review? I think the answer is just about
no time, no effort, because he doesn't regard them as important.

The more critical the review, the more faults and discrepancies that the
reviewer discovers, the more being superior or even on a par is imparted
to the reviewer. (I can find faults with Einstein so I must be just as
smart.)

But there isn't any reciprocity in the striving for status. Wolfram is
already
established as a one in ten million guy, like Knuth or Stallman. Genius with
the added quality of persistence. I noticed you saying that you thought
the goal of these reviews was 'to set the record straight'. So I tried to
figure out what group of people the reviews targeted. By that I mean, who
benefits from reading them? Laymen, who would be discouraged because
solitions are not explained correctly, and he has never even heard of one.
Or that Mandlebrot originally thought all fractals were self-similar
including
coastlines but had later changed his mind because they might be self-affine
or an m-set etc? I think the reviews are largely an intellectual pastime
practiced by academics that tell other academics what they already know:
that Wolfram was not first and that he is smugly arrogant and egotistical.
Other people are not going to care about whether Fredkin was first, or
if von Neumann was first, or if von Neumann actually drew his inspiration
from Ulam etc. They care about readable content with explanatory pictures.
The notes section is as large as the first half of the book for more
technical
reading. The book is a new kind of science for non-academics.

I got tired of reading the 'complex things arise from simple rules' mantra
but other criticisms seem petty to me. Like he invented Mathematica
to better pursue his CA explorations (along with other motives) and he
did a lot of work with Mathematica. So when it comes time to write his
book he should reformat all his work into traditional mathematics? That
was one of Drysdale's criticisms...just what is supposed to be standard?
What I see is envy with envy serving as the sincerest form of flattery.

This was the funniest thing you said:

> > reviwer is trying to show that he is smarter than Wolfram.
>

Edwin:


> And you think he's not?

Like everybody was supposed to give the politically correct answer!
Qutie a few people play pro basketball but because they are in the same
league doesn't mean Michael Jordan isn't head and shoulders above them.
Thirty years ago getting an 800 on your SAT meant something (Gates).

Persistenly.
Stephen

Tim Tyler

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Aug 29, 2002, 1:00:28 PM8/29/02
to
In comp.theory.cell-automata Stephen Harris <stephen....@worldnet.att.net> wrote:
: "Edwin Clark" <ecl...@math.usf.edu> wrote in message
:> "Stephen Harris" wrote:

:> > Wolfram has made it very clear that the book was
:> > written primarily for non-academics and that he doesn't care
:> > what academics think of it.
:> >
:> >So why dont academics ignore it?
:>
:> I am confident that most ARE ignoring it. I'm an exception since
:> I continue to maintain my webpage of reviews. Just cannot help
:> myself. Somebody sends me a link to a new review and I obsessively
:> have to check it out. :-)
:
: I think the last time a book was reviewed this often was maybe
: Shadows of the Mind by Penrose.

An awful book. I imagine many people jumped at the chance to point out
Sir Roger's publicly-expressed misconceptions.

I wonder if Sheldrake's "A New Science of Life" was also widely reviewed.

W. Edwin Clark

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Aug 29, 2002, 2:05:54 PM8/29/02
to

Stephen Harris wrote:

>
> I mean you must have a list of 35+ reviews by now. That means each
> of those guys has taken time to write a review. They must see countering
> Wolfram's opinion as having some importance. That is a type of tribute.


Yes, a tribute to the power of PR. The great majority of reviews are
written by journalists. No doubt ANKOS is a publishing phenomenon.

See Blinded by Science
Explaining the media's obsession with Stephen Wolfram's A New Kind of Science.
By Jordan Ellenberg
http://slate.msn.com/?id=2067547)

>
> How much time does Wolfram spend reading their books, if they've
> written any, and then writing a review? I think the answer is just about
> no time, no effort, because he doesn't regard them as important.

Clearly--he regards only his own work as important.



>
> The more critical the review, the more faults and discrepancies that the
> reviewer discovers, the more being superior or even on a par is imparted
> to the reviewer. (I can find faults with Einstein so I must be just as
> smart.)

What faults have you found with Einstein? Are you saying Wolfram's work
is on the same level as Einstein's?

>
> But there isn't any reciprocity in the striving for status. Wolfram is
> already
> established as a one in ten million guy, like Knuth or Stallman.

I'll agree that W is a one in ten million guy -- but only because
of his skill with PR.

Wolfram is no Knuth! (I don't know what Stallman you are referring
to.) For some serious contrasts: Knuth GAVE TeX to the world. He encourages
people to find errors in his works and even pays good money for those who
do. He is respected by his peers. He doesn't pay people to publicize
his work. His books are valuable and consulted frequently by computer
scientists throughout the world.
>
> Persistenly.
> Stephen

Stephen, obviously you think very highly of Wolfram. Can you tell
me what he has done in ANKOS that impresses you so.

---Edwin

David L. Johnson

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Aug 29, 2002, 5:30:35 PM8/29/02
to
W. Edwin Clark wrote:
>
> Stephen Harris wrote:

>>But there isn't any reciprocity in the striving for status. Wolfram is
>>already
>>established as a one in ten million guy, like Knuth or Stallman.

> Wolfram is no Knuth! (I don't know what Stallman you are referring
> to.)

My guess is Richard Stallman, prime mover behind the GNU software project.
The very man who brought us emacs. I am unclear why Steve is referring to
either of these people as archetypes of genius, in the same breath as
Einstein. I do admire the way that Knuth gave TeX to the world, and you
have to admire his work in producing it. As serious an achievement as that
is, it is no general relativity. As for Stallman, he is a very
controversial character.

> Stephen, obviously you think very highly of Wolfram. Can you tell
> me what he has done in ANKOS that impresses you so.


Interesting question.

Stephen Harris

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Aug 29, 2002, 10:10:53 PM8/29/02
to

"W. Edwin Clark" <ecl...@math.usf.edu> wrote in message
news:3D6E627A...@math.usf.edu...

>
>
> Stephen Harris wrote:
>
> >
> > I mean you must have a list of 35+ reviews by now. That means each
> > of those guys has taken time to write a review. They must see countering
> > Wolfram's opinion as having some importance. That is a type of tribute.
>
>
> Yes, a tribute to the power of PR. The great majority of reviews are
> written by journalists. No doubt ANKOS is a publishing phenomenon.
>
> See Blinded by Science
> Explaining the media's obsession with Stephen Wolfram's A New Kind of
Science.
> By Jordan Ellenberg
> http://slate.msn.com/?id=2067547)
>

I thought that piece was good writing with a strong dash of humor.

> > The more critical the review, the more faults and discrepancies that the
> > reviewer discovers, the more being superior or even on a par is imparted
> > to the reviewer. (I can find faults with Einstein so I must be just as
> > smart.)
>
> What faults have you found with Einstein? Are you saying Wolfram's work
> is on the same level as Einstein's?
>

I haven't found any faults with Einstein yet, but I've only been working on
it
for 31 years...I just need a little more time. Seriously, that was meant to
be
a representative example of a certain type of behavior. I've seen some young
guys on sci.physics denigrate the cosmological constant. No, relatively
speaking, Wolfram has yet to eclipse Einstein. It was an editorial "I".


> >
> > But there isn't any reciprocity in the striving for status. Wolfram is
> > already
> > established as a one in ten million guy, like Knuth or Stallman.
>
> I'll agree that W is a one in ten million guy -- but only because
> of his skill with PR.
>

> Wolfram is no Knuth! (I don't know what Stallman you are referring
> to.) For some serious contrasts: Knuth GAVE TeX to the world. He
encourages
> people to find errors in his works and even pays good money for those who
> do. He is respected by his peers. He doesn't pay people to publicize
> his work. His books are valuable and consulted frequently by computer
> scientists throughout the world.
> >

I've read background on both these guys. I think Wolfram may be slightly
smarter. They both have produced a valuable piece of software. That takes
persistence and dedication. I think Knuth has the edge in discipline and
writing, so he is a more effective genius. I think both have achieved the
freedom to pursue intellectual challenges in their domains. I think that
the flock of reviews indicates influence. Someone else I would put in
their category would be Penrose. Penrose did not create software
but he solved a 200+ year old math problem, which makes him special.

So I care about intellectual achievements and whether they have achieved
freedom in their own niche. Thus there will be no dispute about who is
the nicest guy, the most gracious, or the most generous. I think it is easy
to overlook his vanity, lack of citations, harping on 'simple makes complex'
and focus on the incredible diversity of content. For instance, he took time
to explain his ideas about randomness and compare them to Chaitin's AIT.

The book was written primarily for bright laymen. There is a lot of
information
and effort to connect ideas across disciplines. It was not magical like GEB,
or even Hofstadter's next book, Metamagical Themas, maybe is better,
but ANKOS is clearly superior to H's last book about poetry and translation
with the French title. I think people wanting to read ANKOS will be computer
literate, and there are enough keywords in the second part (or the great
index)
so that if someone wants to know more they can use a search engine and
find more detailed books or papers. Also he is a good writer.

> > Persistenly.
> > Stephen
>
> Stephen, obviously you think very highly of Wolfram. Can you tell
> me what he has done in ANKOS that impresses you so.
>
> ---Edwin

Actually, I think highly of Wolfram's intellect which is different. I
haven't
done much judging of his personality yet because of insufficient evidence.
I think Wolfram has written a quite readable book with an intended
'less than expert' readership though I think there are probably some
nuggets for experts also. It explains a lot about cellular automata
and Wolfram shares some of his thinking and speculation.

This is how the criticism sounds to me: A quasi-expert reads the book
and finds ANKOS does not contain what he/she expects. Wolfram
did not write the book for quasi-experts or experts. He is actually
non-egotistically in touch with what a vanilla intelligent reader needs to
know. The content is going to be much different. Does W omitting
Fredkin deprive the reader of information needed to understand
Wolfram's presentation? No. Citations? No. Those are personality
things connected to expectations surrounding peer review by other
experts. When James Gleick wrote that Chaos book, it didn't need
peer review either. This book is better than Gleick's book.

When Chaitin worked with Omega, he came to the conclusion
that randomness has a greater impact on mathematics than was
previously contemplated. Chaitin did say something like' we should
do mathematics more experimentally as a consequence'. Wolfram
does consider 'simple makes complex' a paradigm shift. It is
different than commonly understood science for "ordinary" people.

But I dont think the book lives up to the promise of its name. I did
hope to read about some magical CA rule that was the secret to
everything. My disappointment was mitigated because I have chased
the secret to everything before, and kind of know it doesn't exist.
I knew better, but had a magical hope. I dont know how often someone
needs to be bitten by gullibility before they attain responsibility also.
Once tricked, shame on you, twice shame on me. I think the experts were
in an even better position to evaluate the hype as a pipedream. Somewhere
Wolfram comes right out and says it might take 13 billion years to really
know the One Rule is the True Rule. I didn't know that, but experts
should have, and that is why I'm not sympathetic to their disillusionment.
ANKOS is well-crafted and worth the price to many people because
it has interesting information. They dont have a style preconception
that the book has to match. They better not believe it is a golden egg.

Regards,
Stephen


Stephen Harris

unread,
Aug 29, 2002, 10:22:44 PM8/29/02
to

"David L. Johnson" <david....@lehigh.edu> wrote in message
news:3D6E927...@lehigh.edu...

> W. Edwin Clark wrote:
> >
> > Stephen Harris wrote:
>
> >>But there isn't any reciprocity in the striving for status. Wolfram is
> >>already
> >>established as a one in ten million guy, like Knuth or Stallman.
>
> > Wolfram is no Knuth! (I don't know what Stallman you are referring
> > to.)
>
> My guess is Richard Stallman, prime mover behind the GNU software project.
> The very man who brought us emacs. I am unclear why Steve is referring to
> either of these people as archetypes of genius, in the same breath as
> Einstein. I do admire the way that Knuth gave TeX to the world, and you
> have to admire his work in producing it. As serious an achievement as
that
> is, it is no general relativity. As for Stallman, he is a very
> controversial character.
>

I am not talking about their characters. I'm talking about genius which
has contributed something significant, like software, or even a proof.
I've read Einstein belittled by people who think that his upgrades their
status.
I do think people do that with Wolfram and Penrose for that matter.
Mentioning Einstein was part of another remark, it was in parentheses,*
and I was not trying to connect Einstein to the shift in topic. I meant
an editorial "I" not me personally. (it was not in the same breath)*

And yes am Einstein level paradigm shift is greater than a one in 10
million.

>
> David L. Johnson
>
Regards,
Stephen


Dr Chaos

unread,
Sep 20, 2002, 3:35:23 PM9/20/02
to
Stephen Harris <stephen....@worldnet.att.net> wrote:
>
> This is how the criticism sounds to me: A quasi-expert reads the book
> and finds ANKOS does not contain what he/she expects. Wolfram
> did not write the book for quasi-experts or experts. He is actually
> non-egotistically in touch with what a vanilla intelligent reader needs to
> know.

Science journalists do that much better. They're certainly better at
correct attribution.

> The content is going to be much different. Does W omitting
> Fredkin deprive the reader of information needed to understand
> Wolfram's presentation? No. Citations? No. Those are personality
> things connected to expectations surrounding peer review by other
> experts.

No they aren't.

> When James Gleick wrote that Chaos book, it didn't need
> peer review either. This book is better than Gleick's book.

Not even remotely.

How is it even Steven Hawking can write general books about obscure
and difficult topics without infesting it with raving egomania?

Advance Australia Dear

unread,
Oct 27, 2002, 8:31:02 AM10/27/02
to
Erik Max Francis <m...@alcyone.com> , an acolyte of Cthulu the True
God wrote:



>Using alternate terminology in order to make a point is one thing, but
>never mentioning the widely-accepted, easily-recognizeable original
>terminology is annoying.

Yeah.
A bit like talking about a "geomorphological alteration system" ie: a
spade.

Advance Australia Dear

unread,
Oct 27, 2002, 8:31:23 AM10/27/02
to
shi...@swirve.com (Shinji Ikari) , an acolyte of Cthulu the True God
wrote:

>

>He may or may not be, that is irrelevant, but one of the critical
>mistakes a reviewer can make is trying to sound smarter than the
>reviewee.

Well, he is certainly saner than the reviewee

Advance Australia Dear

unread,
Oct 27, 2002, 8:32:35 AM10/27/02
to
"Edwin Clark" <ecl...@math.usf.edu> , an acolyte of Cthulu the True
God wrote:

>Heck, there are even some people who don't think Wolfram is trying to make
>his work sound more important than it is and is not trying to take credit
>for things
>he didn't originate. -----At least I heard of one such person. :-)


Are you sure that isn't the Loch Ness monster ?
:-)

Advance Australia Dear

unread,
Oct 27, 2002, 8:34:14 AM10/27/02
to
"Stephen Harris" <stephen....@worldnet.att.net> , an acolyte of

Cthulu the True God wrote:

>But there isn't any reciprocity in the striving for status. Wolfram is
>already established as a one in ten million guy, like Knuth or Stallman.

Or Eric Von Daniken :-)

Erik Max Francis

unread,
Oct 27, 2002, 2:21:06 PM10/27/02
to
Advance Australia Dear wrote:

> Yeah.
> A bit like talking about a "geomorphological alteration system" ie: a
> spade.

Note that you are replying to a thread that is at least two months old.

__ San Jose, CA, USA / 37 20 N 121 53 W / &tSftDotIotE
/ \ I want people to remember me as an entertainer and a good person.
\__/ Aaliyah
EmPy / http://www.alcyone.com/pyos/empy/
A system for embedding arbitrary Python in template text as markup.

Advance Australia Dear

unread,
Oct 27, 2002, 5:55:30 PM10/27/02
to
Erik Max Francis <m...@alcyone.com> , an acolyte of Cthulu the True
God wrote:

>Advance Australia Dear wrote:
>
>> Yeah.
>> A bit like talking about a "geomorphological alteration system" ie: a
>> spade.
>
>Note that you are replying to a thread that is at least two months old.

And you are replying to my reply to an old thread.

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