Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A New Kind of Science” as Want to Read:
A New Kind of Science
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A New Kind of Science

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  1,928 ratings  ·  97 reviews
Physics and computer science genius Stephen Wolfram, whose Mathematica computer language launched a multimillion-dollar company, now sets his sights on a more daunting goal: understanding the universe. Wolfram lets the world see his work in A New Kind of Science, a gorgeous, 1,280-page tome more than a decade in the making. With patience, insight, and self-confidence to sp ...more
Hardcover, 1264 pages
Published May 1st 2002 by Wolfram Media (first published June 1st 1997)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A New Kind of Science, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A New Kind of Science

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,928 ratings  ·  97 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of A New Kind of Science
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
Is it possible to become intoxicated or seduced by one's own ideas? I see it happen with conspiracy buffs, ideologues, philosophers, and yes scientists. I read this book years ago and gave it a five remembering how beautiful the ideas were. The patterns generated by cellular automata were compelling. Surely there was some principle where such simple rules could generate such complexity. I found the idea of computation equivalence the idea when something becomes computationally complex to the poi ...more
Mark Longo
Oct 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Flawed but magnificent.

It was difficult to get past Wolfram's outsized ego, but I was finally able to do so by alternately considering it sympathetically (thinking of him as desperately seeking validation) and comically (his statements of priority and the importance of his work are so over the top it's really kind of entertaining). I also had some strong issues with Wolfram's discussion on natural selection, as well as his discussion of intelligence and life (he would have benefited from a read
...more
Ronny
Sep 09, 2010 rated it did not like it
More like "A New Kind of Ego".

Wolfram's inflated ego dominated this book so much that I found it unreadable and started skimming. What's worse is his self-aggrandizement is undeserved. Wolfram did not discover Cellular Automata, nor was he the first to see potential in them, so basically he's a pretender. In addition, others who have worked in this field have written without the egotism.

The book is short on content. There was some info there, but nothing to justify the title or the bloated lengt
...more
Ben
Aug 20, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science, abandoned
Pascal is famously quoted (paraphrased):

I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.


If Stephen Wolfram worked on this tome for about a decade, I hate to see what he cut it down from.

Even for a book written so as to be approachable by non-technical lay readers, this book is excessively repetitive, and verbose, and repetitive. 200 pages in and I've yet to read anything that I could identify as shockingly new or usefully foundational; nothing that I hadn't been exposed to by
...more
Andrej Karpathy
Oct 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
this book is a mixed bag. You really have to selectively skim chapters that look interesting because you will never make it fully through. I thought some of the chapters had some very interesting results, however, and the notion of a computational universe is very intriguing and interesting.
Warren Mcpherson
Feb 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: ideas
This is a fun easy to read (but huge) book that gets you to think about how very simple algorithms can create fantastically complex results. The author has a giant ego, which is arguably justified but it turns many people off. The key is not to take it too seriously. Don't compare it to a revolutionary scientific tome, compare it to a Pixar movie. Let the book stimulate your brain and enjoy the sensation.
Alex Covic
Jun 29, 2009 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: science students, physicians, mathematicians, computer-nerds, hackers,
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Koen Crolla
May 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: textbooks
This is what happens when you tell an incurious child that they're really smart and never force them to interact with people brighter or more knowledgeable than them. I suppose if you cut out all of the self-indulgent filler trying to set up Wolfram as the revolutionary super-genius king of the universe solving all of science forever (a king with surprising gaps in his knowledge when it comes to, e.g., information theory), you're left with a pretty uncontroversial if very muddled and painfully u ...more
Hobbes
Oct 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book, at about 5,643 pages, was a fascinating read. Wolfram unveils a new way of thinking about how the world works. To this less intelligent mind it looked more like an outgrowth of the chaos movement than something entirely new but whatever it is, and however correct it is, there's no question that Wolfram did move some horizons back. Unfortunately the other message he seems to want to communicate is how amazing Stephen Wolfram is, and the ego can get in the way of the science through-out ...more
John
May 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
I have to admit that I did not read the 1000 plus pages. The idea of cellular automata is interesting, so I programmed some of his examples for fun. He is not a crank and has done serious scientific work, which I am not competent to judge. There is a measure of jealousy in some of the comments by his peers, since he has made a comfortable income from Mathematica. He bought his own Cray computer to play with. The most damaging review was, referring to the title: "What is new is not science; what ...more
Chris
Aug 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a really intriguing book. There is much to like about it, especially the chapter notes in the back, where he goes into a lot of historical background on the development of symbolic logic and the attempt to formalize mathematical operations in the late 1800s by Russell and Whitehead, among others. Wolfram's computational approach to analysis has some definite advantages over more conventional axiomatic methods, and has led to some powerful intuitions. However, I think the author tries to ...more
Chris Reid
Nov 23, 2012 rated it liked it
I desperately wanted to love this book, and I'm glad I slogged through it; however, there didn't appear to be much here that hadn't been articulated better elsewhere, earlier, and with arguably more grounding. If Wolfram wanted to associate himself with these ideas he would've been better off writing a biography than this sprawling treatise. He's clearly brilliant, and part of me hopes (for the sake of the story) that we're all missing something, but as it stands A New Kind of Science is merely ...more
Val Delane
Jun 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Stephen Wolfram has an ego the size of Jupiter, and he does not credit contemporary researchers in the body of this epic work--but based on the clarity and completeness of the presentation I am willing to believe he personally derived and/or verified everything in it from first principles. No matter what else can be said about Wolfram, he is extraordinarily gifted. I bought this book as the "bible of cellular automata" and found much more to ponder than complexity in algorithmic art.
Brett Peppler
Jan 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I'm a big fan of balls. I should explain that. I'm a big fan of having balls, in the metaphorical sense–of having the audacity, and the knowledge to back it up, to tell absolute giants of science, that, ah, you've kind of got it all wrong.
Alex
Nov 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ezzaoudi Ghalia
Feb 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
The exiting book "A New Kind of Science"is written by the worldly known scientist Stephen Wolfram. The book talks about computer science.In the book he shows his unexpected result. Wolfram uses a remarkable way of problems in science, explains the origins of physical systems,and the difficulty of biology. The book is very clear and it is illustrated by a lot of original pictures. He also explains us how the language can be changed in a computer language using just a few lines of code.

The book i
...more
Robert
Apr 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Wow, this is a huge book. It's fascinating and infuriating and did I mention huge. There are two main issues I have with the book. The first is the way that Wolfram dismisses natural selection as a significant force in evolution. He argues that biological systems couldn't possibly become optimized for a purpose based on this kind of random search. It's an argument that's close to Intelligent Design... organisms aren't perfect, and they're not in any sense trying to be. The second issue is the su ...more
Jon
Mar 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
A bold attempt at revolutionizing scientific thought in the context of a computational world. Wolfram partially succeeds in this mission, though his arrogance seems to get in the way of his message, rather than support it. But in some ways it reminded me of Fuller's Synergetics. Not a long read, and well worth it.
Jake
Jan 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating material from cover to cover. The theory of emergent order, fleshed out. Must read (at least the first chapter or so, which was written for the layman) for libertarians! I also recommend the author's lectures at the Singularity Institute, which took place at the Singularity Summit. Very interesting stuff.
Henry
Apr 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Interesting book for the mathematically inclined. The writing style can be tedious (often repetitive), not so much because it may be technical in nature.

A follow up would be interesting, to see how much has been accomplished pursuing the new kind of science the author propses...

Overall, I am glad I read it.
Otis Morgan
Aug 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Finally a way out of the valley of densely static scientific algorithms is explored. And the results look very promising. This looks like the work of a modern Einstein. http://mitworld.mit.edu/video/149 ...more
Eric
Jun 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The book makes advanced Math concepts accessible to anyone who has been through Jr. High School. In some ways it changed my concept of how the world works. Interactions between simple systems can create complex and interesting results.
Ewa
Jun 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
a very ambitious work proposing a new kind of worldview
Sabio
Jul 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: math_physics
Amazing
Great Book
Tough Read but worth it !
A new way of thinking.
Ben
Dec 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
If you're a mega-nerd, you will like this book. Even a brief skimming will spark some interesting associations between nature and programming.
Patrick
Jan 30, 2009 rated it liked it
Some nice interesting stuff, but REALLY verbose and self-important.
Frank
Jun 27, 2009 marked it as to-read
I tested Wolfram Alpha with the question: "Just what is Stephen Wolfram's IQ?". It didn't know.

The answer, of course is: Not nearly as high as he thinks it is.
Bo
Apr 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Thick reading and repetitive, but necessary reading. Plus, what he's describing may be describing the underlying pattern or all reality. Cellular automata are everywhere.
Glassgost
Jun 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Interesting, but certainly only for the math/science geek in me. I did find the tone a bit pretentious, that the little thing the author discovered will revolutionize the entire world.
O Danny
Feb 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Math Majors, Science fans
Recommended to O by: used book seller
As a precursor to the Wolfram Alpha search engine, this book could open the door to computational knowledge generation.
« previous 1 3 4 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: How about index pages? 8 204 Oct 22, 2017 09:25AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Add cover from Amazon 4 15 Oct 20, 2017 12:52PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Sync: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order
  • Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern
  • The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe
  • Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos
  • Complexity: A Guided Tour
  • Turing's Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe
  • The Emperor's New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds and the Laws of Physics
  • The Fractal Geometry of Nature
  • The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology
  • Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics By Its Most Brilliant Teacher
  • The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science and What Comes Next
  • How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed
  • Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
  • The Feynman Lectures on Physics
  • The C Programming Language
  • Cycles of Time: An Extraordinary New View of the Universe
  • Six Not-So-Easy Pieces: Einstein's Relativity, Symmetry, and Space-Time
  • The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives
See similar books…

Goodreads is hiring!

If you like books and love to build cool products, we may be looking for you.
Learn more »
182 followers
Stephen Wolfram's parents were Jewish refugees who emigrated from Germany to England in the 1930s. 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. Wolfram is married to a mathematician and has four children.

He was educated at Eton College, but cla
...more

Related Articles

For more than a decade, Neil deGrasse Tyson, the world-renowned astrophysicist and host of the popular radio and Emmy-nominated televi...
65 likes · 11 comments
“It is perhaps a little humbling to discover that we as humans are in effect computationally no more capable than cellular automata with very simple rules. But the Principle of Computational Equivalence also implies that the same is ultimately true of our whole universe.

So while science has often made it seem that we as humans are somehow insignificant compared to the universe, the Principle of Computational Equivalence now shows that in a certain sense we are at the same level as it is. For the principle implies that what goes on inside us can ultimately achieve just the same level of computational sophistication as our whole universe.”
2 likes
More quotes…