Welcome! This is the home page for The Computational Beauty of
Nature, affectionately known as ``The Fish and Chips Book.''
Here, you will find information about the book, source code
for simulations involving fractals, chaos, complex systems, and
adaptation, and a whole slew of goodies for people interested in
multidisciplinary topics involving computers, philosophy, and
Some recent news items concerning the book and author are
highlighted below. However, please check out the navigation menus on
the left, which will take you to the main content of this web site.
Web Communities Self-Organize
Children's Games are Underrated
Gary William Flake and Eric Baum published
``Rush Hour is PSPACE-complete, or "Why you should generously tip parking lot attendants."'' in the journal Theoretical Computer Science 270 (January) : 895-911.
Rush Hour is a deceptively simple children's game that is
so computationally profound that it can actually ``compute'' things.
Who would of thunk it?
It turns out that our proof technique has wide applicability to answering the complexity status of many open planning problems. Ivars Petersen wrote an excellent overview article of our work at Science News Online.
All figures from CBofN released for noncommercial use
The MIT Press is graciously allowing the figures from CBofN to
be used for personal, scholarly, or educational use. The figures (all
of them!) can now be downloaded in several formats, or browsed via a
thumbnail gallery. See the ``Book Contents / all figures from book''
section for more information.
AI Magazine - Summer 2000 - Reviews CBofN
``The text is well crafted, and the scholarship is both broad and
deep. The author is clearly a renaissance man as well as a wonderful
teacher. He is equally good at succinct summaries and painting the
big picture, and he makes particularly effective use of examples.
Best of all is his infectious joy about his subject: The text is full
of percolations of delight at the beauty of some concept or equation or
at the sheer fun of hacking code. This book would be great for a
course, as a reference, or just plain old recreational reading.''
The complete review can be found online.
CBofN Reviewed in the American Mathematical Monthly
``... I know of no book, other than [ The Computational Beauty of
Nature ], that covers this interesting mix of related topics. I
think this book would make a fine source for a senior seminar or for
thesis students. Code is available on the web for those who want to
experiment; in my opinion, this should be everyone. Adequate
references to other sources are provided, and the author's style is
GWF Interviewed on Beyond Computers Radio Show
Gary Flake gave a brief interview on the 3 May 2000
edition of Beyond
A Real Audio taping of the show is available. Skip ahead
about 39 minutes into the show to find GWF's interview.
The Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation on CBofN
``The theme of the book is wildly ambitious: to describe, explain and
inter-relate fundamental ideas from computation, fractals, chaos,
complex systems and adaptation. It could have very easily gone
wrong. But in fact it is a triumph, because Flake is always clear and
Review of CBofN by The British Computer Society
``This is an outstanding book which can be recommended to all computer
professionals but especially undergraduate and postgraduate computer
scientists and mathematicians.''
--J. W. Bruce
Review of CBofN in The London Times - Higher Educational Supplement
`This is a book that deserves 15 different sorts of review. If
computers touch your life, then here is a way of entering the
excitement of closing the gap between technology and life, between
computers and nature. If you have any sense of fun, get the book, get
on the internet, download the programs and start to play your way into
exploring the boundaries of science.''
``That is one review. Another might be one that persuades those
stuffy people who write A-level computing and information technology
syllabuses to read this book and use it to design a syllabus that
would give teenagers a real subject. The Computational Beauty of
Nature provides a wealth of ideas that are relevant, challenging,
stretching, deeply absorbing, and ideal for school treatment. Yet
another review would trigger daydreams of a world we might have been
drawn into had we read this book when we were teenagers. In receptive
hands. this book will inspire degree choices life choices, and a
greater appreciation of computers and nature.''
``... suffice it to say that if you've any formal computer
training or applied maths: algorithms, background
graphics, information theory, number theory, domain
theory, you will love this book. It's a coffee table
book in the finest tradition, not for the layman who
puts "A brief history of time" out to make out he's a
scientist, this is a book to leave around for yourself,
to pick up, to flick through, to appreciate nature.
... I love to
just dip into this, to re-read descriptions of
equations and methods. If you like, to remind myself
of what my discipline can be about when I get so
involved in the minutae of my work that I've
forgotten what the bigger picture is all about. ''
``This is a wonderful book. The author lucidly describes the
computational beauty of nature from four different perspectives:
`Computer Explorations,' `Chaos,' `Complex Systems,' and `Adaptation.'
... Using all four approaches, Flake not only clearly
describes nature, but also presents the same phenomena with each
approach. This strategy gives the reader a very broad-based
educational experience and promotes critical thinking. Without such a
presentation, explaining models that purport to describe `nature' can be
quite intimidating. Flexibility is another major plus of this
publication: Readers may skip a portion of any section or even an
entire section without loss of continuity. ... reading
this awe-inspiring book will be a colorful experience for the mind.''
--Jason R. Taylor, SB&F, May/June 1999
The August 1999 issue Dr. Dobbs's has a review of
``[ The Computational Beauty of Nature ] is a solid starting point
for anyone with a serious interest in computational approaches to
Undergrad and Graduate Courses Use CBofN
At least ten courses have used CBofN as a primary or supplementary
text. Are you an instructer looking for course ideas? Check our
the ``miscellany / for educators''
section to see what others are doing with CBofN.
CBofN Wins PSP Book Award