Pioneering Scientist Stephen Wolfram to Speak at Yale School of Architecture

Renowned scientist Stephen Wolfram will deliver a lecture titled “A New Kind of Science” at the Yale School of Architecture on February 14, 6:30 p.m.

A ground–breaking and original scientist, Wolfram is recognized as one of the world’s most important innovators in computing and software technology. He is the creator of “Mathematica,” a computational system of far–ranging application, which has revolutionized how basic principles of physics and biology are understood.

“We are remarkably fortunate to have Dr. Wolfram as Saarinen Lecturer, brilliantly fulfilling the series’ expectation for speakers whose original accomplishments outside the specific realm of architecture have had a profound effect on the field,” said Robert A.M. Stern, dean of the Yale School of Architecture.

“Dr. Wolfram’s research into computational language has opened up new ways for all of us to rethink relationships between nature and the manmade world,” Stern added.

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 received his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Caltech by the age of 20. Wolfram began using computers in his work as early as 1973 and rapidly became a leader in the emerging field of scientific computing.

For his early work in physics and computing, Wolfram received a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Prize in 1981, becoming the youngest recipient of the coveted award. Embarking on a new direction in science aimed at understanding the origins of complexity in nature, Wolfram used computer experiments to study the behavior of simple computer programs known as “cellular automata.” A series of startling discoveries about the origins of complexity grew out of this work and laid the “complex systems research.”

Through 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 provided the main scientific foundations for such initiatives as complexity theory and artificial life.

In 1986 Wolfram founded the first research center and the first journal in the field of complex systems research. Retiring from academia following a distinguished career—at Caltech, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and the University of Illinois–Wolfram launched Wolfram Research, Inc.

Wolfram began the development of Mathematica in late 1986. When it was released in 1988, Mathematica was hailed as a major advance in computing. The popularity of Mathematica grew rapidly, and Wolfram Research became established as a world leader in the software industry.

Building on his work from the mid–1980s, Wolfram made a rapid succession of major new discoveries, developing a fundamentally new conceptual framework, which he applied not only to new kinds of questions, but also to many existing foundational problems in physics, biology, computer science, mathematics and several other fields.

Wolfram described his achievements in his book “A New Kind of Science.” Released in 2002, the book was widely acclaimed and immediately became a bestseller. Its publication initiated a paradigm shift of historic importance in science.

In addition to leading his company to break new ground with its innovative technology, Wolfram is now developing a series of research and educational initiatives in the science he has created.

Wolfram’s talk is the Eero Saarinen Lecture, provided by the Eero Saarinen Visiting Professorship fund. The purpose of the lectureship is “to broaden professional education about issues within the manmade environment.” Previous Eero Saarinen lecturers include Anthony A. Williams, Thomas Krens, Jonathan Rose and Daniel Doctoroff.

Free and open to the public, the lecture takes place in Hastings Hall of the Art & Architecture building, 180 York Street.

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Media Contact

Dorie Baker: dorie.baker@yale.edu, 203-432-1345