Stephen Wolfram is a scientist, inventor, author, and
business leader. He is the creator of Mathematica, the author of A
New Kind of Science, and the founder and CEO of Wolfram Research.
His career has been characterized by a sequence of original and
Born in London in 1959, Wolfram was educated at Eton, Oxford, and Caltech.
He published his first scientific paper at the age of 15, and had received
his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Caltech by the age of 20. Wolfram's
early scientific work was mainly in high-energy physics, quantum field
theory, and cosmology, and included several now-classic results. Having
started to use computers in 1973, Wolfram rapidly became a leader in the
emerging field of scientific computing, and in 1979 he began the
construction of SMP--the first modern computer algebra system--which he
released commercially in 1981.
recognition of his early work in physics and computing, Wolfram became
in 1981 the youngest recipient of a MacArthur Prize Fellowship. Late in 1981
Wolfram then set out on an ambitious new direction in science aimed at
understanding the origins of complexity in nature. Wolfram's first key idea
was to use computer experiments to study the behavior of simple computer
programs known as cellular automata. And starting in 1982 this allowed him
to make a series of startling discoveries about the origins of complexity.
The papers Wolfram published quickly had a major impact, and laid the
groundwork for the emerging field that Wolfram called "complex systems
the mid-1980s, Wolfram continued his work on complexity,
discovering a number of fundamental connections between computation and
nature, and inventing such concepts as computational irreducibility.
Wolfram's work led to a wide range of applications--and provided the main
scientific foundations for such initiatives as complexity theory and
artificial life. Wolfram himself used his ideas to develop a new randomness
generation system and a new approach to computational fluid dynamics--both
of which are now in widespread use.
Following his scientific work on complex systems research, in 1986 Wolfram
founded the first research center and the first journal in
after a highly successful career in academia--first at Caltech, then at the
Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and finally as Professor of
Physics, Mathematics, and Computer Science at the University of
Illinois--Wolfram launched Wolfram Research, Inc.
Wolfram began the development of Mathematica in late 1986. The first version
of Mathematica was released on June 23, 1988, and was immediately hailed as
a major advance in computing. In the years that followed, the popularity of
Mathematica grew rapidly, and Wolfram Research became established as a world
leader in the software industry, widely recognized for excellence in both
technology and business.
Following the release of Mathematica Version 2 in 1991, Wolfram began to
divide his time between Mathematica development and scientific research.
Building on his work from the mid-1980s, and now with Mathematica as a tool,
Wolfram made a rapid succession of major new discoveries. By the mid-1990s
his discoveries led him to develop a fundamentally new conceptual framework,
which he then spent the remainder of the 1990s applying not only to new
kinds of questions, but also to many existing foundational problems in
physics, biology, computer science, mathematics, and several other fields.
After more than ten years of highly concentrated work, Wolfram finally
described his achievements in his 1200-page book A New Kind of
Released on May 14, 2002, the book was widely acclaimed and immediately
became a bestseller. Its publication has been seen as initiating a paradigm
shift of historic importance in science, with new implications emerging at
an increasing rate every year.
Wolfram has been president and CEO of Wolfram Research since its founding in
1987. In addition to his business leadership, Wolfram is deeply involved in
the development of the company's technology, and continues to be personally
responsible for overseeing all aspects of the functional design of the core
Wolfram has a lifelong commitment to research and education. In addition
to providing software for a generation of scientists and students, Wolfram's
company maintains some of the web's most visited sites for technical
information. Wolfram is also increasingly active in defining new directions
for education, especially in the science he has created.
Building on Mathematica, A New Kind of Science, and the success
of Wolfram Research, Wolfram has recently launched several highly creative
initiatives that can be expected to have major impacts in diverse areas.
For more information about Stephen Wolfram, see www.stephenwolfram.com.
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