Wolfram Computation Meets Knowledge

Wolfram Summer School


Francesco Scagliola

Summer School

Class of 2009


Francesco Scagliola is a composer. He graduated with full marks in piano, electronic music, and composition in 1998 as a specialist in musical computer science from Tempo Reale, the musical research, production, and didactics center managed then by Luciano Berio. In 1999 he specialized in musical composition with Azio Corghi at the National Academy of St. Cecilia, where he earned a degree in composition in 2003. He is dedicated to musical research, particularly problems of computer modeling of composition processes. He is currently Professor of Electronic Music at the “Niccoló Piccinni” Conservatorio in Bari. He is also an assistant professor under Prof. Corghi and Prof. Bacalov (Academy Award winner, 1966 and 1995) for live electronics and multimedia in summer courses at the Chigiana Musical Academy, where he has taught since 2001.

Project: A Modified Gabor’s Auditory Representation Model for Cellular Automata

In the exploration of the computational universe, a crucial role is played by visual representations. As an alternative to this technique, in this project an auditory approach is adopted—a possibility also suggested by Stephen Wolfram in his NKS book (p. 585). This project uses granular sound synthesis, and in particular a modified Gabor’s auditory representation model, for rendering and analyzing the complex behaviors of cellular automata. The basic idea of these techniques is to use the value of the cell at column f and row t of the automaton computation as the amplitude of an elementary component (“grain” or “acoustical quantum”) characterized by frequency f and occurring at time t. The collection of grains is expected to form a complex, evolving sound. The evolution of a cellular automaton is thus interpreted as a sonogram where each row is a spectrogram.

The reason for choosing the Gabor model is that it is based on the physiology of sound perception and on psychoacoustic criteria that Gabor himself investigated. It is hoped that reflecting parameters of the human auditory system will yield advantages in terms of the artistic potential of the method. In particular it is hoped that, for some families of CAs, new timbres will emerge at the microstructure level as well as perceivable larger-scale patterns at the macrostructure level.

Favorite Three-Color Cellular Automaton

Rule 2310175125