Forgive the delay, I’ve been a bit swamped since my return from the conference. Here are my notes and observations on the first-session talks on the first day of the conference, Friday October 31:
FRANCIS BITONTI – “Unnatural Selection”
Frank works as an instructor at the Pratt Institute, and is a firm believer in using NKS and “searching the space of all possible solutions” in order to aid unique design. He was recently a finalist in the NYC “City Racks” competition, and his bike racks were all designed using NKS methods of search, though his design didn’t initially start out that way. The rotation space for the rack design was a four-color CA system. He believes that “bucking the linear evolution model means NKS is a better tool for designers and architects.”
An example of his searching methods – searching Google images for the results of the word “soft” to see what other people associate with that word, even if it isn’t something one would find in a dictionary definition. He is also working on a window design project, searching through the ECAs to find a unique pattern that is 50% black and 50% white cells. Says his clients are excited by his methods.
Frank says that he’s committed to NKS methods in architecture and design, and is doing his best to spread the word about NKS. He claims his clients are consistently excited about this “new kind” of architecture.
MICHAEL ROUND – “The Proximate Event”
Round was concerned, primarily, with the accessibility of NKS to high school students. By labeling himself a nonspecialist, he proceeded to try to figure out NKS on his “own terms,” which led to the creation of a small book/pamphlet about ECAs and nature. He’s a regular attendee of NKS conferences and Mathematica conferences.
The main issue I had with Round’s approach was his resistance to using Mathematica (and this is not because I work for Wolfram)- he generated all his ECA evolutions in Excel. He claimed that “everyone has [Excel],” and therefore it would be more accessible to the average public high school student. However, he did concede that student would have to know well several sophisticated functions in Excel before the student could duplicate Round’s techniques.
What I thought Round did the best was talk about simple relationships between visual nature and CA behavior — lightning bolts like some Class 4 gliders, etc.
TARAU – “Everything is everything” revisited: Shapeshifting data types with isomorphisms and hylomorphisms.
Tarau begins with the statement: “We have no excuse not to make a theory of everything in computation – since it’s manmade.” He goes on to talk about heterogenous objects which are isomorphic and hence compressible, the ranking problem of combinatorical objects, and a new measure of complexity – the size of the data structure to which we map.
ALEXANDER LAMB – “A Glider for Every Graph”
Lamb is an independent researcher not affiliated with a business, school, or lab. He has his PhD in Artificial Intelligence.
Lamb claimed he was searching for the fundamental ground between physics and the NKS methodology.
He decided he would begin by looking for rotationally invariant gliders across a graph. He wants to impose the 2D game of life structure on irregular directed graphs instead of looking at a distorted grid. The point is to try to approximate some sort of discrete notion of space, and posit particles as rules that map initial node values (made to be colors so that they are visible) across the graph. The initial goal is to get straight-line motion.
He is ultimately looking for a simple approximation to a physical particle. By defining scoring methods using sets of nodes on a random graph as described above, and then changing those sets based on the highest scoring elements, one can achieve a sort of movement of these sets, that looks like a movement of particles.
In the evening I had a bit of work to do, but had a very nice dinner with some fellow employees and attendees. Who knew the Dalai Lama’s brother owned a restaurant in Bloomington, IN? It was a Jeopardy question, you should know. 😉
Later on, we were all treated to a fantastic documentary film by George Csicsery — Julia Robinson and Hilbert’s Tenth Problem. Order your copy today, especially if you know or love a woman in (or interested in) math or science!
EDITED – I rushed when I posted this, and it showed. Thanks for the tips!