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Wolfram and the Origins of Randomness


Stephen Wolfram’s short article The Origins of Randomness in Physical Systems is like a black hole, or at the very least a neutron star. Incredibly short for the ideas elaborated - only 4 pages - the manuscript is incredibly dense. Each line is a distillation of entire courses of study.

How is this possible? The endnotes: there are 28, and many of them are full paragraphs of further information, and contain their own set of references.

How did you react when reading this paper? Did you recognize any of the ideas/statements as any that we have covered this semester? Or perhaps ideas you are familiar with from past study?

And what is your personal belief of randomness in physical systems? Does randomness arise from the interaction between your system and the outside world, or does randomness arise from deterministic processes within the system? If you answer that randomness comes from outside the system, how do you explain randomness if the system is the universe?

And, if the system is the universe, does this mean that all random processes are deterministic?

Are there no random processes?

(Image drawn using the EdgeOfChaosCA Java applet.)