## Wolfram Offers Prize For (2,3) Turing Machine 164

An anonymous reader writes

*"Stephen Wolfram, creator of Mathematica and author of A New Kind of Science, is offering a prize of $25K to anyone who can prove or disprove his conjecture that a particular 2-state, 3-color Turing machine is universal. If true, it would be the simplest universal TM, and possibly the simplest universal computational system. The announcement comes on the 5-year anniversary of the publication of NKS, where among other things Wolfram introduced the current reigning TM champion — 'rule 110,' with 2 states and 5 colors."*
## 33% solved. (Score:5, Funny)

## Microsoft's proofs (Score:2, Funny)

## Sounds like... (Score:4, Funny)

## Re:Sounds like... (Score:5, Interesting)

Perhaps this is the only way he can now get creative people to work on problems like this.

## I think Editors should give credit... (Score:5, Informative)

Of course the person that makes this proof will have to concede every right to Wolfram and therefore in some way the 25K are just a payment for such intellectual property.

And the name removing has been mostly due to his book A new kind of science, where he "comes up" with several ideas that have been created by other authors. I would like to *believe* he makes the typical Master or junior PhD error of not looking hard for the current work but other people believe he just wanted to plagiarize other's people ideas.

## plagiarize (Score:2)

## Re:I think Editors should give credit... (Score:5, Informative)

Submissionsremain the sole property of submitter(s), but we reserve the right to publish summaries of any winning submission and the name of the submitter(s) on our website. It is also anticipated that any winning submission will be expanded into a scholarly paper that could be published in the Complex Systems journal.It was far too easy to follow the link in the original post and investigate.

## Re: (Score:2)

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Dear Slashdot, please do my homework for me.

## I can disprove it (Score:2, Funny)

It'll take me some time.

I can disprove it. It will take me some time.

I can disprove it. It'll take me some time.

I can disprove it. It will take me some time.

## Cock & Balls (Score:4, Funny)

## Re: (Score:1)

You've won this angry face as a reward! >:[

## Re:Cock & Balls (Score:5, Funny)

## Re: (Score:1, Informative)

- Anonymous Karma Whore

## Re: (Score:2)

Indeed you do not. [slashdot.org]

Not so! In return you are being given the glorious opportunity to lose karma to offtopic and troll mods!

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## Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

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## Cult (Score:3, Funny)

A New Kind of Sciencewasn't something like a Scientology cult. He would have been the awesomest cult leader!## Cult of NKS (Score:5, Interesting)

1. Both closed self-contained, self-referencial systems. ... "This is the new kind of science, old science is obsolete"

2. Both venerate a person: Wolfram and L. Ron Hubbard.

3. Both have this "us" versus "them" mentality.

4. Both have their beliefs and ideas disregarded and ridiculed by the most sane individuals (this just reinforces the cult group cohesion).

5. Both have exclusive facilities & training (NKS Summer School), special meetings and conferences for the members. I don't know...looks like a cult to me... ;-)

## Re:Cult of NKS (Score:5, Insightful)

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## Re:Cult of NKS (Score:4, Funny)

## Re: (Score:1)

looklike an e-meter, but it also does Cellular Automata!## Re: (Score:2)

I don't know...looks like a cult to me... ;-)Well, you know. Chemistry started as alchemistry, where a bunch of weirdos tried to turn everything they could find into gold.

As long as he doesn't hurt anyone, let him do whatever he wants, something good may evolve out of it. I for one, won't even pretend I have a clue what on earth a two state machine with three colors should be.

## Re: (Score:2)

You may thinking of L. Ron's 1978 book

A New Kind of Scients## No Halting State (Score:5, Interesting)

I couldn't make out what is to be interpreted as the result of a particular computation of this machine.

Seems like a pretty important detail.

Anyone know?

Stephan

## Re: (Score:2, Funny)

## NKS online, step right up, get your nonsense! (Score:5, Informative)

Crazy NKS "goodness" for your reading "pleasure": here [wolframscience.com].

Trust me, even if it is free, after reading it, you'll want your "free" back.

## Re:NKS online, step right up, get your nonsense! (Score:5, Insightful)

The nonsense is free online. Wow, now millions of people can read it, waste time ...and make fun it.. hopefully. Crazy NKS "goodness" for your reading "pleasure": here .

Trust me, even if it is free, after reading it, you'll want your "free" back.

You didn't actually read the damn thing, did you? I'm getting really tired of this mindless NKS bashing, no matter how fashionable it is. A book that was largely favorably reviewed in Notices of the American Mathematical Society [ams.org] cannot be 100% nonsense, can it really? I find it amusing that those who are most critical of NKS are almost never real scientists.

There are some severe flaws with NKS. The fundamental philosophical claims are highly doubtful, the "new science" mentioned in its title does not live to its name, the egomaniacal tone, the passing off of other people's hard work as Wolfram's own, the revisionist history, etc. But

that said, there is a lot to enjoy in the book. The footnotes are worth the price of a copy on their own, as they are in many ways one of the best exposés of the history of the 20th century focusing on computer science, mathematics and physics I have ever read.I knew a lot about CAs and discrete models before reading the book, most likely more than you know, or will ever know, and yet I really did learn a lot from it. You just have to be intelligent and well-versed enough to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff. Maybe that's your real problem with the book?

## Re:NKS online, step right up, get your nonsense! (Score:5, Informative)

There are some severe flaws with NKS.You bet!

The fundamental philosophical claims are highly doubtfulCheck.

...the "new science" mentioned in its title does not live to its nameCheck

the egomaniacal toneAlso "Check"

the passing off of other people's hard work as Wolfram's own, the revisionist historyOne more big "Check". -- This is what did it for me. I wish he made the appendix section the main part of the book. That's where he actually mentioned who did what before him and I found the examples there more interesting than Wolfram's prose + pictures. Yes, as scientist I am very sensitive and biased when it comes to passing someone's work as your own, that is very much a "no-no" in the scientific community. The only time the rest of the world hears about the scientists is when they discover something really amazing or plagiarize.

Overall, was the reading insteresting?, -- it was alright for me. I learned some new things as well (but mostly things others did that W. re-did in Mathematica) about CA, tag systems, fractals and such. But it was anything but a "New Kind Of Science". It wasn't "New" (just re-packaged) and it wasn't a "Science" it was just prose. Apart from few examples, W.'s "proofs" consist of phrases like "I strongly believe X", "I am quite confident that Y" and "Look at the pretty picture I generated!".

Trust me I tried to like it: I paid money for the book and spent time reading it, I didn't want o believe that I somehow 'wasted' it, but in the end I have to be honest to myself and say 'no' it isn't what it claims to be and 'yes' I wish I hadn't spent the time and money buying it.

## Re: (Score:2)

"...there are at least two ways in which

he has benefited mathematics: he has helped to

popularize a relatively little-known mathematical

area (CA theory), and he has unwittingly provided

several highly instructive examples of the pitfalls

of trying to dispense with mathematical rigor."

(Lawrence Gray, "A Mathematician Looks at Wolfram's New Kind Of Science).

I give credit to the author for a fair evaluation, but I wouldn't exactly call it a favorable review.

If Wolfram wrote "A Pictoral Introducti

## Re: (Score:1)

From the FAQ:

"We are considering a future e-book version of NKS, but it is difficult to achieve adequate quality level"

Well, assuming you don't use PDF. I've seen books/papers etc in PDF format and they look fine to me. Whatever can he mean?

## Re:No Halting State (Score:5, Interesting)

But the larger question is "so what?". So what if it is? When he found the (2,5) system to be, I don't recall the scientific comunity awarding him a Nobel Prize. No matter how much he can run his rule 110 he will not come up with animals, humans or planets. But the whole implication is that that's how "it" happened.

I'll admit, I was one of the suckers who bought NKS before it was put online for free. I read it all -- it reads like bedtime story book. Wolframs "proofs" are mostly just statements like

I strongly believe...,I am quite convinced...andlook at the pretty pattern I just made!and so on. The most interesting thing was the appendix where he lists some the results and publications of actual scientists (you know the ones that don't define their own "new science" and then by definition become "scientists"...). I whish he would have made the appendix the main part of his book and added his "beliefs" as an appendix.Of course, he has loads of cash to just sit around and create "cool" patterns and then have a bunch of followers cheering each other on as they play with CA -- it's like they have their own little world, their contests, conferences, classes and so on. Can you say the word "cult" ?

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## Re:No Halting State (Score:4, Funny)

being that I was both a computer programmer and a mathematician, I was in a unique position....I remember 5 years ago walking around my comp sci lab proclaiming to people:

being that I am both a computer programmer and a master of Bubble Bobble, I am in a unique position....

being that I am both a computer programmer and holding a piece of chalk right now, I am in a unique position....

The implication being that I am going to lock myself in a cave for the next 10 years any minute now and come out to self publish a book about the lint I found in my navel.

## Belated injection of intelligent thought (Score:2)

http://www.statesman.com/life/content/life/storie

## Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?! (Score:2)

disproving"UTM == Universe" would be shocking. Have I misparsed you?## Re: (Score:1)

## Re: (Score:3, Informative)

I guess it's up to you to define the result interpretation in your proof. If you can make the machine encode "Finished emulating, and the result is: TRUE" on the tape (in whatever encoding of ascii into colors), then go into an idle loop over some other part of the tape, then it's probably OK with Wolfr

## Re: (Score:2)

Halting state? How about the heat death of the universe?

## I have a proof (Score:4, Funny)

## You're in trouble (Score:1)

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## Handpants. (Score:2)

## Good for his book sales (Score:3, Insightful)

There is a large amount of relevant material in A New Kind of Science.## Re: (Score:1)

Any tips on how to win the prize? Do experiments! Use Mathematica to do computer experimentsI'm not too much into theoretical computing but are there any practical reasons that such a small Turing machine would be of any practical purpose? Surely when such a simple machine is fabricated in hardware the transistor count of giving it any reasoable I/O and storage would outweight by far the benefits even in small embedded systems.

## Re: (Score:2)

From the website: There is a large amount of relevant material in A New Kind of Science.Does it have an explanation of the colour/state pictures he's so fond of showing?

The {state, colour} -> {state, colour, offset} description that makes sense relative to the image below it shown here http://www.wolframscience.com/prizes/tm23/technica ldetails.html [wolframscience.com] is counter-intuitive: W->0, Y->1, R->2. This means the rules shown in the image are the same, but in a totally different order than the rules as de

## Hmm (Score:4, Funny)

## Wolfram and Hart? (Score:1, Interesting)

## Arrow of time is reversed in CA (Score:5, Interesting)

## Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

But since CA represent perfect causal determinism, doesn't that mean we people have the time of arrow backwards ourselves when applying it to our own universe? Instead of the past causing the future, the future causes the past.

The reason we don't know the future for sure, is for the same way that we can't tell for certain which of a number of potential preceding causal states created the "current" state in a CA.

## Re:Arrow of time is reversed in CA (Score:5, Funny)

## Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

Given a complete description of a scientific system, scientific models allow us to predict what the future state of the system will be. However, there is no guarantee that each starting state will reach a unique final one. So by observing the final state we cannot always uniquely determine the starting state.

A good example of

## Re:Arrow of time is reversed in CA (Score:5, Informative)

The future is absolutely not fixed, because randomness is deeply engrained into our universe.

## Re: (Score:2)

I love the idea that the Universe is random, because I love the idea that God may, in fact, play at dice. You have to be aware of the possibility that what we're perceiving as "randomness" is really just the incompleteness of our models of the Universe. The Universe itself isn't infinite, why should its complexity be?

## Re: (Score:2)

An alternative view is that when you talk about a "probability" in quantum mechanics, you are reall

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## Re: (Score:2)

For a really nice overview of the views (more than 3!) have a look at this [washington.edu].

Personally, I suspect that the future is indeterminate because it is the simplest explanation I have for the existence of the present moment. Note that this is NOT the same as saying that time has a direction or even a flow, but more that there is a point that moves along the gradient. Put another way, if I am just a set of points in 4 space, why should one point be favoured over any other?

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## batshit insanity (Score:4, Funny)

batshit insanity"

Cosma Rohilla Shalizi on S.Wolfram, A new kind of science

http://cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/notebooks/cellul

## Does anyone still doubt? (Score:2)

This is mainly knowdledge for the sake of knowledge, and companies aren't really interested in that. They would even only *c

## Re: (Score:2)

Point is, as nice as it's to know about the TM thingy [whatever this is], it's very far removed from anything that can help people.

Put it this way, you can either fund a local school, health care, research into cancer treatment [or whatever],

## the use(fulness) of research (Score:3, Insightful)

That would imply that one would know in front what research can best serve society.

This is rather contentious and doubtful; first of all, it is rather arbitrary as to define what is 'best' for society, and furthermore, it's impossible to know what may come from that research in terms of future possibilities - or while not useful themselves, may lead to advances (or in combination with other research) that would otherwise

## Re: (Score:1)

Dropping money on highly esoteric reading problems like turing machines is just as bad as funneling it to Haliburton. It's inappropriate and not in the best interests of society. You're right, who knows where 3 colour TM theory may take us. However, it's more likely that funding medical research, or other applied sciences will result in benefits.

In this case I have to agree with the others. This is just an excuse to get

## Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

For instance, with the same token one can say:

"Schools [as in for kids], uni, hospitals, and the like are ALREADY underfunded TODAY. Why waste money on space-exploration when the billions spend up there could be used to help people down here?"

"Schools [as in for kids], uni, hospitals, and the like are ALREADY underf

## Re: (Score:2)

I agree that some long term funding and risks are a good idea. However, many of these problems do not really come up in "the real world." So you have to balance what a few want with what many

## Re: (Score:2)

I actually do too. But that was just to show how some things may be more 'obvious to agree on' than others. The principle remains the same though; one could argument that military strength is necessary to safekeep the country. And wars...well, *nobody* will say they are a proponent of war - but yet, people accept the state spending billions and billions on the Iraqi war. And one can't really say it's a fluke, or people are all that oposed to it, b

## Are you retarted? (Score:2)

Wolfram only announces this (rather small) price to get publicity for his NKS bullshit, and sell more books.

So in fact, the whole procedure will actually create a net loss in knowledge and intelligence (people that will work on it get dumber, and dont create useful knowledge in the meantime).

## Are you a troll? (Score:2)

That's what I said.

"Wolfram only announces this (rather small) price to get publicity for his NKS bullshit, and sell more books.

So in fact, the whole procedure will actually create a net loss in knowledge and intelligence (people that will work on it get dumber, and dont create useful knowledge in the meantime)."

Seen the quality of your counter-arguments, you'd better hope everyone reading your post is retarded.

## where's my $25K? (Score:4, Funny)

## don't even try (Score:1)

## Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

1. Arent done or simulated using Mathematica, so he cant use them to further advertise Mathematica.

2. Don't cite his book "A New Kind Of Science" as primary and most important reference, which is itself more of an Mathematica scam, then "A Kind of Science" at all.

## Betting on his leaps of faith (Score:4, Informative)

A New Kind of Science(NKS) comes only seven weeks after another key conjecture was disproved. [wolframscience.com] (The fact that that disproof was brought to public notice by the NKS Forum moderator might suggest that the ongoing NKS project is happy enough for results to fall whichever way they will.)On a visit to Champaign-Urbana in the late 1980s, still before he officially started on NKS, Wolfram took me through where he felt his cellular automata research was headed which hinted at some of the inferences he would eventually draw from his mountains of research data. That was even before the Santa Fe Institute paper which was foolishly read as retreating [meme.com.au] from the edge of chaos-border of order which had briefly been the focus of the quest for the source of emergent complexity during the 1980s.

The resources Wolfram is bringing to the table are significant and have certainly helped put complex systems back in the spotlight after far too many of the first generation of researchers were seduced by the marginal returns they could get by applying their methods to the derivatives market, no matter whether their methods made a significant difference or not.

The downside of continuing to focus on the simplest possible mechanisms (Wolfram calls them 'programs') as the source of a critical threshold is that all those much sought after proofs of universality, from the early one for Conway's Life on, are vast feats of engineering and thus make no useful progress towards the implicit goal of helping to explain how we/anything got here in the first place.

So I'll keep playing with my own idiosyncratic program to explore a bit deeper in that narrow and difficult transition region between order and chaos, but might be tempted to have another look at Mathematica's increasing support for such research once it is available via CP6AN.

## $25k or one license (Score:2)

sPh

## This would be a fun probem to tackle... (Score:2)

## Re: (Score:2)

... if it were well defined. Instead Wolfram seems to be using a nonstandard, unclear notion of "universality". By any standard definition, no Turing machine without a halting state can be universal. Thus, coming up with a satisfactory proof of "universality" or "non-universality" would seem to serve no purpose besides promoting Wolfram's nonstandard definitions. At the least, he should not describe this gadget as a Turing machine, which definitely implies a particular notion of universality.

This is a minor issue. It can be solved by showing that for halting states of the simulated machine, the correct output is on the tape, and the emulating machine is in a verifiable loop that does not alter the content of the tape.

Again, Wolfram may be a lot of things, but he knows his computability theory.

## Re: (Score:2)

As a result, the result, pos

## You don't understand computability theory (Score:2)

Yes, that would be one approach. But my point is that this is not the normal definition of a universal Turing machine. It's misleading to use that terminology; also, the real problem he is asking for a solution for seems to be somewhat less well defined than the appropriate, corresponding question would be for an ordinary Turing machine. The decision question should be simply and formally specified. You came up with one that would seem plausible. But who decides what's plausible?

Nobody decides 'plausibility' (at least not recursion theorists or researchers in computability). They investigate relative computability.

You see, the functions computable by Turing machines whose "halting" is defined as some pre-specified infinite loop, identical for all outputs, are

the sameas the functions computable by regular Turing machines with a privileged halting state. That is why, from the point of computability theory, itdoesn't matterthat Wolfram's possible universal machine doesn't hav## Re: (Score:2)

Nobody decides 'plausibility' (at least not recursion theorists or researchers in computability). They investigate relative computability.

It seems to me that where matters of choice of definition are concerned, questions of appropriateness (perhaps a better word than plausibility) apply.

You see, the functions computable by Turing machines whose "halting" is defined as some pre-specified infinite loop, identical for all outputs, are the same as the functions computable by regular Turing machines with a privileged halting state. That is why, from the point of computability theory, it doesn't matter that Wolfram's possible universal machine doesn't have a privileged halting state.

Yes, of course. In other words, what you have done, informally, is specify a Turing machine W', which, when given an arbitrary Turing machine M and input w, will simulate Wolfram's machine on an encoding of M and w, and halt if Wolfram's machine trivially loops. Presumably you would also need to specify different kinds of such loops that should represent acc

## First you complain that Wolfram is unclear. (Score:2)

Which is it?

Again -- "this would be a fun problem to tackle if it were well defined".

It

iswell defined. And, it concerns whether a machine, which he has introduced, is universal, in a clear, meaningful sense.Your new complaint, that Wolfram's use of the term "smallest Turing machine" is self-aggrandizing, unfair, and ignores the history of computability is correct, but is nothing new, as far as criticisms of Wolfram go. I saw

## Re: (Score:2)

Then, you complain that his use of the term "smallest" is unfair.

Which is it?

Both. His use of the term "smallest" seems unfair because it is in relation to what seems to me to a definition of universality which is at best nonstandard and at worst ill-defined.

Again -- "this would be a fun problem to tackle if it were well defined".

It is well defined. And, it concerns whether a machine, which he has introduced, is universal, in a clear, meaningful sense.

Well, I must admit that the precise sense escapes me, as it seems to escape Wolfram, from my quote above. I think Wolfram would probably be satisfied with a solution along the lines you propose. But why waste my time working on that, when it is all only for the greater glory of Wolfram's world view?

By the way, when you start to defend yourself by reminding people that you went to MIT, and had a famous advisor, you start to sound a bit like Wol.. oh, now I'm just being cruel.

Yeah, you got me there.

## Re: (Score:2)

## You still don't understand computability theory -- (Score:2)

unlimitedresources can compute.## Re: (Score:2)

## Re: (Score:2)

An infinite tape is still a resource.

This is fun and all, but you're equivocating so fast my head is spinning.

The meaning of "given set of resources", in complexity theory, is "growth-bounded time and/or space", neither of which are part of the "resources", now meaning "finite but unbounded time and space", of computability theory.

Also, believe it or not, there are some models of computation which are universal even though they only use finite resources!

I have no idea what you're talking about.

## Re: (Score:2)

This is fun and all, but you're equivocating so fast my head is spinning.

I'm not equivocating at all. I'm sorry if you don't find the term "resource" appropriate. Both computability theory and complexity theory (which together broadly constitute "theory of computation") can be thought of in terms of what functions machines of various sorts can compute, or, equivalently, what formal languages they recognize. As well as in many other equivalent terms.

Also, believe it or not, there are some models of computation which are universal even though they only use finite resources!

I have no idea what you're talking about.

Is the statement not clear enough, or do you simply disbelieve it? There are many notions of computation. For example, there is no

## Re: (Score:2)

Also, believe it or not, there are some models of computation which are universal even though they only use finite resources!

Do you understand your own thesis?

First you say that there are models of computation that are

A computer that uses finite resources is one, for example, that only ever uses 47 squares on a tape.

To give me examples, you refer to models of computation that are

notuniversal, and## Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

'rule 110'? Come on, that's so much less interesting than 'rule

256'.There is no rule 265, so, I fixed it for you...

## Re: (Score:2, Funny)

## Re: (Score:1, Funny)

## Re: (Score:1, Funny)

I hate fag-bitch retards like you that spoil the good name of

No

## Re:Come on Mr Wolfram! (Score:4, Insightful)

I don't see your point. Mathematicians have offered prizes before for solving problems. Paul Erdos is the most famous of these and his prizes were very successful IMHO at inspiring young mathematicians to investigate the combinatorial and number theory problems that Erdos was interested in. Even if

So, in summary, I see Wolfram here using a proven method for getting math results that he is interested in.Dr.Wolfram is grandstanding, he offers good money in return. My take is that $25k is roughly six to nine months of postdoc. Not a bad return.## Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

are paying me because they suppose I will do something good in this time.

Even if I do not produce incredible results I will get paid.

Wolfram instead, pays you only if you succeed in something that is very difficult

(if he has not solved it by himself)

No my dear, this is mass extortion: he gets all the advantages and no drawbacks:

- he seems to be generous!

- he sells more copies of his horrid science fiction book;

- he gets dozens of smart gu

## Re: (Score:2)

## Re: (Score:2)

It's a little harder to justify that paying only based on results for research. The entire reason it's called research is that no one presumably knows the answer to the problem and therefore it may or may not be solvable. Not being assured some sort of payment for your efforts pretty much kills any incentive to do it in the first place.

## Re: (Score:2)

## Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

He describes a Turing machine with a language consisting of three symbols (his use of colors is annoying), two states, and six state transitions. It's much easier to follow if you ignore all the pictures and just read the set description of his machine. The third '1' in the output