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# The Recursive Universe: Cosmic Complexity and the Limits of Scientific Knowledge

Fascinating journey explores key concepts in information theory in terms of Conway's "Game of Life" program. Topics include the limits of knowledge, paradox of complexity, Maxwell's demon, Big Bang theory, much more. 1985 edition.

Paperback, 252 pages

Published
September 10th 1985
by McGraw-Hill/Contemporary
(first published November 28th 1984)

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Aug 03, 2013
Peter Mcloughlin
rated it
4 of 5 stars

Shelves:
biology,
complexity,
computers,
general-science,
intellectual-history,
mathematics,
philosophy,
physics,
owned-books

I have enjoyed Poundstone's book prisoner's dilemma. I really enjoyed this one too. Conway explores complexity, life and its fate, the laws of physics, the possibility of machines that make even more complex machines and how complexity can bootstrap itself with simple rules into ever growing intricacy. The book starts out with Johnny Von Neumann in the 1950s when he hit upon the idea of a machine that can make copies of it self from the environment and the possibility that such a machine could m...more

Dec 04, 2012
Brian Powell
rated it
3 of 5 stars

Recommends it for:
Fans of Paula Poundstone, robots

Shelves:
pop-sci

Where does the perceived complexity of the universe come from? Surely from something equally as complex. Or are there exceptions? Consider the irrational number pi; to all appearances, an infinite string of unpredictable numbers -- mathematically indistinguishable from a random and meaningless collection of bits. But unlike a an infinite random string of numbers, pi can be completely encoded succinctly in the form of a recursive relation with only two terms - all that complexity reduced to a sim...more

*Perceptrons*or Wilson's

*Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge*, the latter of which I enjoyed very much. Hopefully it'll arrive soon, as I intend to get a lot of reading done between the end of finals and the new year!

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When I was an eight-year-old boy in West Virginia, a friend of my father's gave me a paperback copy of Martin Gardner's Mathematical Puzzles & Diversions. He gave it to me because (a) it had all these logic puzzles in it, and they were "too hard" for him and (b) my father had boasted that I was a pretty bright kid. So maybe I would like it. As I thumbed through the Gardner book, it struck me a...more

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