Book Review – Stephen Wolfram – Adventures of Computational Explorer

Some time ago, I have received the book of Stephen Wolfram – Adventures of Computational Explorer for a review. Stephen is the guy behind WolframAlpha –, a PhD in physics before his 21. birthday, considered a prodigy by some people. His book gave me the opportunity to take a look inside his mind and see how are “things” structured there.

The book consists out of 25 independent essay-like stories, which could be pretty interesting, if you are a fan of Sheldon Cooper or you are planning to date a girl/guy like him and they need to be impressed. Jokes aside, the book is written in a personal touch, telling you stories from author’s life that non-scientists can understand. E.g. when he was in kindergarten in Oxford and was the only one who managed to see a solar eclipse. And although he showed it to many of his 6-year-old mates, noone believed him. Bit it was there – This taught him the valuable lesson, that the wisdom of the crowd is not always wise:

When they find out that people don’t agree with something that seems obvious to them, many people will just conclude that they’re the ones who are wrong. That even though it seems obvious to them, the “crowd” must be right, and they themselves must somehow be confused. Fifty years ago today I learned that wasn’t true. Perhaps it made me more obstinate, but I could list quite a few pieces of science and technology that I rather suspect wouldn’t exist today if it hadn’t been for that kindergarten experience of mine.

His own stories, are actually quite fun – from the moment he was asked to compute all the visualisation from an Alien’s spaceship, (whole essay is on author’s blog) including their language, the displays, etc to the moment when he first heard “Trust me, I know what I am doing” from a 5-year-old girl holding a hammer, missing a nail and hitting author’s thumb. Interesting stories concerning making computer music and passing the analog of the Turing test for music follow each other.

While reading the stories, you learn some useful insights – e.g. what is a design review and why is it important in software development. Was 10K hours of design review a waste of time? What are the challenges in making quantum neural blockchain AI?

The contents of the book are the present below. If you search them in Google, you would most probably find the original article in the author’s blog:

Take a look at the essays and enjoy them with a cup of tea/coffee. It is like listening to Sheldon Cooper and the other guys from the Big Bang Theory show. I mean it in a nice way 🙂

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