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The Foundations for a New Kind of Science

An Outline of Basic Ideas

Three centuries ago science was transformed by the dramatic new idea that rules based on mathematical equations could be used to describe the natural world. My purpose in this book is to initiate another such transformation, and to introduce a new kind of science that is based on the much more general types of rules that can be embodied in simple computer programs.

It has taken me the better part of twenty years to build the intellectual structure that is needed, but I have been amazed by its results. For what I have found is that with the new kind of science I have developed it suddenly becomes possible to make progress on a remarkable range of fundamental issues that have never successfully been addressed by any of the existing sciences before.

If theoretical science is to be possible at all, then at some level the systems it studies must follow definite rules. Yet in the past throughout the exact sciences it has usually been assumed that these rules must be ones based on traditional mathematics. But the crucial realization that led me to develop the new kind of science in this book is that there is in fact no reason to think that systems like those we see in nature should follow only such traditional mathematical rules.

Earlier in history it might have been difficult to imagine what more general types of rules could be like. But today we are surrounded

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