29 August 1959 |
London, England, UK
|Fields||Mathematics, physics, computing|
|Alma mater||Oxford University, Caltech|
|Known for||Creator of Mathematica and Wolfram Alpha
Author of A New Kind of Science
|Notable awards||MacArthur Fellowship|
Stephen Wolfram's parents were Jewish refugees who emigrated from Westphalia, Germany, to England in 1933. Wolfram's father Hugo was a textile manufacturer and novelist (Into a Neutral Country) and his mother Sybil was a professor of philosophy at the University of Oxford. He has a younger brother, Conrad. Today, Wolfram is married to a mathematician and has four children.
citation needed] By age 10, he was already reading physics books. He was educated at Eton College, but claimed to be bored and left it prematurely in 1976. He entered St John's College, Oxford at age 17 but found lectures "awful", and left in 1978 without graduating. He received a Ph.D. in particle physics from the California Institute of Technology at age 20, joined the faculty there and received one of the first MacArthur awards in 1981, at age 21.[
Unpublished work 
At just 12 years old he wrote a dictionary on physics, and soon by ages 13 and 14 he wrote three books on particle physics. All were typed to a professional level of prose and style on a typewriter, with considerably detailed drawings, although they were not published.
Particle physics 
By the time he was 15 he began to research in applied quantum field theory and particle physics and publish his first scientific papers. Topics included matter creation and annihilation, the fundamental interactions, elementary particles and their currents, hadronic and leptonic physics, and the parton model, published in professional peer-reviewed scientific journals including Nuclear Physics B, Australian Journal of Physics, Nuovo Cimento, and Physical Review D. Working independently, Wolfram published a widely cited paper on heavy quark production at age 18 and nine other papers, and continued to research and publish on particle physics into his early twenties. Wolfram's work with Geoffrey C Fox on the theory of the strong interaction is still used today in experimental particle physics.
Symbolic Manipulation Program 
Wolfram led the development of the computer algebra system SMP (Symbolic Manipulation Program) in the Caltech physics department during 1979–1981. A dispute with the administration over the intellectual property rights regarding SMP—patents, copyright, and faculty involvement in commercial ventures—eventually caused him to resign from Caltech. SMP was further developed and marketed commercially by Inference Corp. of Los Angeles during 1983–1988.
Complex systems and cellular automata 
In 1983, Wolfram left for the School of Natural Sciences of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where he studied cellular automata, mainly with computer simulations. He produced a series of papers systematically investigating the class of elementary cellular automata, conceiving the Wolfram code, a naming system for one-dimensional cellular automata, and a classification scheme for the complexity of their behavior. He conjectured that the Rule 110 cellular automaton might be Turing complete. In the middle 1980s Wolfram worked on simulations of physical processes (such as turbulent fluid flow) with cellular automata on the Connection Machine alongside Richard Feynman and helped ignite the field of complex systems founding the first institute devoted to this subject, The Center for Complex Systems Research (CCSR) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the journal Complex Systems in 1987.
In 1986 Wolfram left the Institute for Advanced Study for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he founded their Center for Complex Systems Research and started to develop the computer algebra system Mathematica, which was first released in 1988, when he left academia. In 1987 he co-founded a company called Wolfram Research which continues to develop and market the program.
A New Kind of Science 
From 1992 to 2002, he worked on his controversial book A New Kind of Science, which presents an empirical study of very simple computational systems. Additionally, it argues that for fundamental reasons these types of systems, rather than traditional mathematics, are needed to model and understand complexity in nature. Wolfram's conclusion is that the universe is digital in its nature, and runs on fundamental laws which can be described as simple programs. He predicts that a realization of this within the scientific communities will have a major and revolutionary influence on physics, chemistry and biology and the majority of the scientific areas in general, which is the reason for the book's title.
Since the release of the book in 2002, Wolfram has split his time between developing Mathematica and encouraging people to get involved with the subject matter of A New Kind of Science by giving talks, holding conferences, and starting a summer school devoted to the topic.
Computational knowledge engine 
In March 2009, Wolfram announced Wolfram|Alpha, an answer engine with a new approach to knowledge extraction and an easy-to-use interface, launched in May 2009  and a Pro version launched on February 2012. The engine is based on natural language processing, a large library of algorithms and answers queries using the approach described in A New Kind of Science. The application programming interface (API) allows other applications to extend and enhance Alpha. Wolfram|Alpha is one of the answer engines behind Microsoft's Bing and Apple's Siri (along with Google and Yelp!) answering factual questions.
See also 
- Stephen Wolfram, Wolfram Alpha, retrieved 15 May 2012
- "Jüdische Schriftsteller in Westfalen: Hogarth Wolfram"
- Giles, J (May 2002). "Stephen Wolfram". Nature 417 (6886): 216–8. doi:10.1038/417216a. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 12015565
- Levy, Steven (10.06). "The Man Who Cracked The Code to Everything ...". Wired. Retrieved March 20, 2011.
- "Stephen Wolfram". nndb.com. Retrieved 2009-05-11.
- "Stephen Wolfram". Sunday Profile. 2009-05-31. Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
- An Interview with Stephen Wolfram, Paul Wellin, Mathematica in Education 2 (1993) 11-16.
- Arndt, Michael (2002-05-17). "Stephen Wolfram's Simple Science". BusinessWeek. Retrieved March 20, 2011.
- Thesis listing: Some Topics In Theoretical High-Energy Physics
- Levy, Steven (12 Feb 2010), TED 2010: How to Ace a TED Talk, WIRED, retrieved 16 May 2012
- Stephen Wolfram: Computing a theory of everything, TED, Feb 2010, retrieved 16 May 2012
- SXSW Award Winners 2012, retrieved 16 May 2012
- "Google Scholar citations". Retrieved 2012-04-07.
- S. Wolfram (1972). Concise Directory of Physics.
- S. Wolfram (1973). The Physics of Subatomic Particles.
- S. Wolfram (1974). Introduction to the Weak Interaction 1.
- S. Wolfram (1974). Introduction to the Weak Interaction 2.
- Stephen Wolfram: Articles on Particle Physics
- See A Model for Parton Showers in QCD and Observables for the Analysis of Event Shapes in e+ e- Annihilation and Other Processes
- Kolata, Gina. "Caltech Torn by Dispute Over Software," Science, 27 May 1983 (Vol. 220, No. 4600) issue, pp. 932-934.
- W. Daniel Hillis (1989-02). "Richard Feynman and The Connection Machine". Physics Today. Retrieved 3 November 2006.
- "The Man Who Cracked The Code to Everything". Wired. Retrieved 2012-04-07.
- TED (2010) Stephen Wolfram: Scientist, inventor. [Online] http://www.ted.com/speakers/stephen_wolfram.html (accessed 19 January 2010).
- Wolfram, Stephen (2009-03-05). "Wolfram|Alpha Is Coming!". Wolfram blog. Retrieved 2009-03-09.
- "Wolfram|Alpha". Retrieved 2009-03-09.
- "Announcing Wolfram|Alpha Pro". Wolfram|Alpha blog. Retrieved 2012-04-07.
- Johnson, Bobbie (2009-03-09). "British search engine 'could rival Google'". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-03-09.
- "Answering your questions with Bing and Wolfram Alpha". "Microsoft's Bing blog". Retrieved 2012-04-07.
- "iPhone features". Apple. Retrieved 2012-04-07.
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