Wolfram Computation Meets Knowledge

Wolfram Summer School


Marcia Ellen Ring

Summer School

Class of 2008


Marcia Ellen Ring is an assistant professor of nursing at the University of Vermont, and the last math class she took was in high school. She had three stats courses in grad school and loved them. When NKS first was published, it attracted her attention. She had long since recognized that much of what is done in health care keeps people ill, rather than supporting people staying well. She wanted to be a part of what helped people stay well, and thus has been searching for years to find something along these lines. Her search has brought her to complementary and alternative healing, and now NKS. This is an ongoing process for her, and she hopes she can bring some fundamental changes to how health and illness are viewed and treated.

Project: Sustaining the Evolution of Cellular Automaton 1599

This project entails looking at Rule 1599, a class 4, totalistic (3-colored) cellular automaton (CA; NKS p. 70). New colors of each cell in a totalistic CA do not depend on the individual cell colors in its neighborhood, but rather depend on the average color of the preceding neighboring cells. With a single gray cell as its initial condition, rule 1599 then “bubbles” about for 8,282 steps before all uniqueness ends in straight lines, or as Wolfram stated, “the pattern resolves into 31 simple repetitive structures” (NKS p. 69).

The project goals are to: 1) determine which specific perturbations keep rule 1599 bubbling; 2) find a function that will prolong the bubbling, possibly preventing 1599 from ending up in straight lines; 3) determine whether the function in #2 is independent of 1599 or somehow a feature contained within it already; 4) determine what effect different initial conditions have on the progression of 1599 or if it is a fixed procedure; 5) present findings in a variety of media; and 6) make a difference.

Favorite Radius 3/2 Rule

Rule 58

Here’s what I did with this homework. First, I thought I had to go through each ECA one by one, until Michael Schreiber‘s talk where we found the simple perturbations of CAs. Jason Cawley helped me rework (he did it, I just asked) the code for my project. In my homework, I figured out ALL BY MYSELF what had to be changed to the code to give me first a survey of all the k=2, r=3/2 ECAs. Then, I figured out what had to be changed in the code to just look at rule 58. I chose rule 58 because the perturbation eventually moved through the entire pattern. I liked that.

On an entirely different note, I find that I love Mathematica. I feel so free. I can’t hurt anyone by making the wrong decision. I can just play and see what happens. If I don’t like the output, I can just choose to erase it. Wow.