The Computational Beauty of Nature
Computer Explorations of Fractals, Chaos,
Complex Systems, and Adaptation
by Gary William Flake
``This book is a delight.''
-- Barak Pearlmutter,
The University of New Mexico
``This delightful book illustrates beautifully the paradigm shift
in physics from writing equations and solving them to computer
modeling and experimentation.''
Greg Chaitin, author
of The Limits
``Simulation,'' writes Gary Flake in his preface,
``becomes a form of experimentation in a universe of theories. The
primary purpose of this book is to celebrate this fact.''
In this book, Gary William Flake develops in depth the simple idea
that recurrent rules can produce rich and complicated
behaviors. Distinguishing ``agents'' (e.g., molecules, cells,
animals, and species) from their interactions (e.g., chemical
reactions, immune system responses, sexual reproduction, and
evolution), Flake argues that it is the computational properties of
interactions that account for much of what we think of as
``beautiful'' and ``interesting.'' From this basic
thesis, Flake explores what he considers to be today's four most
interesting computational topics: fractals, chaos, complex systems,
Each of the book's parts can be read independently, enabling even the
casual reader to understand and work with the basic equations and
programs. Yet the parts are bound together by the theme of the
computer as a laboratory and a metaphor for understanding the
universe. The inspired reader will experiment further with the ideas
presented to create fractal landscapes, chaotic systems, artificial
life forms, genetic algorithms, and artificial neural networks.