"If you want to get a rough grasp of how the leopard might get its spots, then building a CA model (or something similar) can be very illuminating. It will not tell you whether that's actually how it works. This is an important example, because there is a classic theory of biological pattern formation, or morphogenesis, first formulated by Turing in the 1950s, which lends itself very easily to modeling in CAs, and with a little fine-tuning produces things which look like animal coats, butterfly wings, etc., etc. The problem is that there is absolutely no reason to think that's how those patterns actually form; no one has identified even a single pair of Turing morphogens, despite decades of searching.
For a good account of the actual mechanisms of biological pattern formation, as they are being revealed by molecular developmental biology, see John Gerhart and Marc Kirschner, Cells, Embryos and Evolution: Toward a Cellular and Developmental Understanding of Phenotypic Variation and Evolutionary Adaptability (Oxford: Blackwell Scientific, 1997). This book provides an excellent discussion of the interactions between genetic control, self-organization, evolutionary forces and functional adpatations in development. (There is a nice review by Danny Yee.) — The failure of experiment to turn up any biological system working according to Turing's principles was remarked by the late, great John Maynard Smith in his review of Depew and Weber's Darwinism Evolving (in the New York Review of Books, vol. 42, no. 4, 2 March 1995); my search of the subsequent literature doesn't indicate that the situation has changed.
Update, 4 March 2012: There is now a fairly convincing example of a pair of Turing morphogens in actual biology:
Andrew D. Economou, Atsushi Ohazama, Thantrira Porntaveetus, Paul T Sharpe, Shigeru Kondo, M. Albert Basson, Amel Gritli-Linde, Martyn T. Cobourne and Jeremy B. A. Green, "Periodic stripe formation by a Turing mechanism operating at growth zones in the mammalian palate", Nature Genetics 44 (2012): 348--351
Thanks to a reader for letting me know about this."
On the other hand, one might be looking for a weaker sort of confirmation: not that Turing-style morphogenesis accounts for everything, but that it accounts for at least something, i.e. there is at least one demonstrable instance where a Turing-style explanation can be shown to account for a process as it actually works physically & historically in nature, vs. just being a clever way of mathematically approximating a pattern. In that case, the paper you link above is at least one prior example, and this article adds another domain-specific investigation.
marktangotango extrapolated this trope to assuming that Wolfram doesn't cite the particular authors in question without bothering to check, perhaps because he assumes (incorrectly) that Wolfram never gives credit to others at all.
Maybe assuming you can extrapolate a common criticism of a person in any way that occurs to you, and then presenting the extrapolations as fact isn't "lying," but whatever it is, it shouldn't have a very nice name.
It's not a lie, if it is the result of ignorance.
I'm not even sure what "deliberate ignorance" means in this context: he knowingly doesn't know if Wolfram mentioned this, and guessing he probably did, chooses to say he didn't?
If I claimed that the Lord of the Rings trilogy does not contain a character named "Frodo," would you call that a deliberate lie or a simple mistake?
I'd call it neither.
You'd be wrong, but maybe you were confusing the name, or maybe the book, or maybe it's spelt differently in a different language. Maybe you read it long ago and forgot. Maybe you read a printing done by a little known cult that censored all referenced to hobbits. I have no idea why, but there are an infinite field of possibilities and only some require bad faith.
Sure. But I think it is inadvisable to claim to know the reasons or motive behind the comment, and doubly so to claim they are acting in bad faith.
I don't have to worship a person to think it's inappropriate to use lies to discredit that person. In fact, the more worthy a person is of being discredited, the more important (and elementary) it is to discredit that person using true statements.
In this discussion, the mistake was corrected in about an hour and included citations.
You can argue the morality of it, but it gets results.
Corrections and even downvotes are fine. Accusing someone of acting in bad faith is completely different.
I believe (hope?) none of my comments in this thread could be regarded has hateful (errantly or otherwise).
There's one of the most blatant and ridiculous lies I've seen today, with such an obvious agenda. It's disgusting.
Turing and biological pigmentation patterns: https://www.wolframscience.com/nksonline/page-1003g-text
Detailed summary of von Neumann's work in self-replication: https://www.wolframscience.com/nksonline/page-876b-text
An index entry on Zuse and modelling the Universe as a cellular automaton, although the text itself is not freely available: https://www.wolframscience.com/nksonline/index/z.html?Search...
Please don't use bald-faced lies to propagate hatred of anyone.
Turing seems to be sort of a personal hero to Wolfram, so I'm sure that he'd have some interest in the results in the post.
And for anyone interested in modeling nature with computers more generally, A New Kind of Science is wonderful reading and gives a great conceptual framework on how to go about it. It's sad that the Shalizi review is the first thing people refer to (it's sort of the Huffington Post of reviews).
This was how I thought before I read any reviews or heard anything other than laudatory things about Wolfram. Until I read the reviews I thought there might be something terribly wrong with my understanding of what I just read.
Do you base this on just this one review, or more generally? I've mostly found his reviews informative and much better researched than most online reviews. They have opinions, but the opinions are more informative to me than "I like this" or "I don't like this". I usually feel that I learn something from the reviews, including finding new books and articles to read because they're cited in the review. That's not exactly something that happens at HuffPo.
Anyway, the history of cellular automata is sort of interesting, and the notion of using computation to explain biological markings is also interesting. Thought after skimming Turing's paper it looks like while Turing makes many simplifying assumptions, did some basic computer modeling, and is literally about biological cells, his model is not as abstract as the cellular automata von Neumann, Conway, or Wolfram studied--unlike the others Turing's model uses linear equations to transmit "state" from cell to cell instead of rules. In fact Wolfram's contribution was to remove as many details as possible from cellular automata, enumerate all the possibilities, and observe what happens.
The bummer about referring to that review in other threads or in this case mischaracterizing Wolfram's work is that it distracts from creating more interesting discussions about this stuff. There are currently about 16 comments effectively discussing attribution, and precious few about what sort of model Turing proposed.
My personal single biggest objection, though, is that the review appears to be used as a sort of conversation-ending trump card, usually posted with very little comment, sort of like you might see from a fan of talk radio posting in a newspaper comment section.
It's about as bad as bringing up Wolfram's ego--the consequent discussion never leads to anything interesting. Witness this thread that marktangotango started. I don't believe he was being malicious, but it's clear that rather than start a discussion about cellular automata like he intended it spawned a wasteland thread about attribution.
Why must we talk about TMZ-level bullshit when we could be talking about Turing's paper and the original paper in the post? Why is that discussion losing out to gossip?
One modification they made to Turing's idea was that each cell has the same composition. They found that, to produce the results they expected, they needed to alternate the composition of neighboring cells.
(It would be nice if your post was at the top of the thread, since it's the most relevant and useful so far, but it is not very controversial. Next time consider adding something like "Biology professors hate him! Read this man's 1 weird trick for explaining morphogenesis!")
appreciated they didn't say "death". Would have preferred "apparent suicide", but it's a step in the right direction.
As I understand it this was his last paper too, before the authorities basically hounded him to death.