"This book is a delight."
-- Barak Pearlmutter, University of New Mexico
"This delightful book illustrates beautifully the paradigm shift in
physics from writing equations and solving them to computer modeling
-- Greg Chaitin, author of The Limits of
"Simulation," writes Gary Flake in his preface, "becomes a form of
experimentation in a universe of theories. The primary purpose of
this book is to celebrate this fact."
In this book, Gary William Flake develops in depth the simple idea
that recurrent rules can produce rich and complicated behaviors.
Distinguishing "agents" (e.g., molecules, cells, animals, and species)
from their interactions (e.g., chemical reactions, immune system
responses, sexual reproduction, and evolution), Flake argues that it
is the computational properties of interactions that account for much
of what we think of as "beautiful" and "interesting." From this basic
thesis, Flake explores what he considers to be today's four most
interesting computational topics: fractals, chaos, complex systems,
Each of the book's parts can be read independently, enabling even the
casual reader to understand and work with the basic equations and
programs. Yet the parts are bound together by the theme of the
computer as a laboratory and a metaphor for understanding the
universe. The inspired reader will experiment further with the ideas
presented to create fractal landscapes, chaotic systems, artificial
life forms, genetic algorithms, and artificial neural networks.