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It has been a great challenge for me to capture the things I have discovered over the past twenty years in a book of manageable size. And to do so I have often ended up compressing into a page or even a paragraph the essence of what a chapter or even a book could have been written about.

In the quarter million or so words of the main text my emphasis is on communicating the core of my ideas and discoveries--as well as indicating a little of how I came to them. The last three hundred or so pages of the book--themselves another quarter million or so words--supplement the main text with many historical and technical notes, and also summarize more discoveries. The notes that begin on page 849 address some specific issues about reading this book.

Throughout the book my primary concern is with basic science and fundamental issues. But building on the foundations in the book there are a vast array of applications--both conceptual and practical--that can now be developed.

No doubt some will come quickly. But most will probably take decades to emerge. Yet in time I expect that the ideas of this book will come to pervade not only science and technology but also many areas of general thinking. And with this its methods will eventually become a standard part of education--much as mathematics is today. And in the end most of what now seems surprising and remarkable in the book will come to seem familiar and commonplace.

But for me what has always been most important is the actual process of discovery. For I know of nothing as profoundly exciting as to glimpse for the first time some new and basic truth. And now that I have finished building the intellectual structure that I describe in this book it is my hope that those who read these words can share in the excitement I have had in making the discoveries that were involved.

Stephen Wolfram

January 15, 2002

From Stephen Wolfram: A New Kind of Science [citation]