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Combinators: A Centennial View (arxiv.org)
43 points by graememcc 14 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 10 comments

I find this painful to read. It's always about what Stephen Wolfram has done and how it is realised in Mathematica. If you are a true expert in a field you should have less trouble acknowledging other people's contributions. I missed, for example, the connection with Church numerals or the acknowledgement that substitution is not just defined in Mathematica.

Interesting I'd never read this review.

>At the end of the Caltech program the moderator, Steven Koonin, asked the panelists to predict whether in 20 years Wolfram's A New Kind of Science will be viewed as a paradigm shift. The unanimous answer was "no." One panelist said, "it is not an approach that has much promise," while another noted that Wolfram's ideas are the "Emperors New Clothes."

We are approaching the 20 year mark and they were resoundingly correct.

>Wolfram tried to get in the last word by stating that this reaction from the panelists is just what one would expect from a paradigm shift.

Wolfram might be the smartest person in the world with NPD. Lol.

Btw here is another famous review of NKS


Yeah, I find it circuitously poses similar questions over and over, with vague allegories towards hypothetical application, and provides no real conclusions. For example in the part about evaluation order, a long walk through all the different observations, and some small ideas of what "mathematica does", and as I read hoping for a final conclusion on the section, a redirect to a new subject. Feels like I was listening to a joke with no punchline, on the edge of the seat over and over again. In the end I don't know what I was hoping for, but I feel the key works in the field of Algorithmic Information Theory, expresses all of these ideas more succinctly, the irony of which is not lost on me. Wolfram is a physicist who wants to be a computer scientist? A computer scientist who wants to be a mathematician? None of the above in the pursuit of all of the above? I always walk away from his ramblings feeling the same way. I did find he had some great occasionally insightful observation, but to what effect? I'd like to see what happens when he takes an approach like this to a more applied problem, rather than this endless open-ended "future of ..." (Physics, computing, etc)

LOL, Almost every thread I read related to Stephen Wolfram, there are always people who complain about his ego.

And rightfully so.

If you want to learn about combinators and have some great fun while doing it I just can't recommend enough of this book: "To Mock a Mockingbird" by Raymond Smullyan. Don't sweat it, buy it, I haven't had so much fun in a long time.

Seconding this book. I jumped back to the beginning of his recreational logic books and have been reading through them this year. Lots of fun, and as a programmer there’s an extra (self-induced) challenge to explore programs that can generate, solve, or interpret the systems and problems he sets up.



And also his Godelian Puzzle Book, much fun!

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