## Spam books?!

**R**ather (too) frequently, I get those unsolicited (hence spam) emails from Worldscientific. The latest almost sounded like a bogus book, with some sentences clearly intriguing… I recognised some names in the list of authors so it cannot be a fake, however the way it is presented is rather puzzling. (And it includes a chapter on intrinsic randomness, by Stephen Wolfram, who showed with his bewildering * New Kind of Science* how far he could be from scientific writing!) So puzzling, actually, that I may order it…

RANDOMNESS THROUGH COMPUTATION

Some Answers, More Questions

edited by Hector Zenil (Wolfram Research Inc., USA)450pp (approx.)

978-981-4327-74-9: US$90 / £56 US$67.50 / £42This review volume consists of a set of chapters written by leading scholars,

most of them founders of their fields. It explores the connections of Randomness to other areas of scientific knowledge, especially its fruitful relationship to Computability and Complexity Theory, and also to areas such as Probability, Statistics, Information Theory, Biology, Physics, Quantum Mechanics, Learning Theory and Artificial Intelligence. The contributors cover these topicswithout neglecting important philosophical dimensions, sometimes going beyond the purely technical to formulate age old questions relating to matters such as determinism and free will.The scope of Randomness Through Computation is novel. Each contributor

shares their personal views and anecdotes on the various reasons and motivations which led them to the study of Randomness. Using a question and answer format, they share their visions from their several distinctive vantage points.Contents:

* Is Randomness Necessary? (R Graham)

*Probability is a Lot of Logic at Once: If You Don’t Know Which One to Pick, Get’em All(T Toffoli)[available here]

* Statistical Testing of Randomness: New and Old Procedures (A L Rukhin)

* Scatter and Regularity Imply Benford’s Law… and More (N Gauvrit & J-P Delahaye)

* Some Bridging Results and Challenges in Classical, Quantum and Computational Randomness (G Longo et al.)

* Metaphysics, Metamathematics and Metabiology (G Chaitin)

* Uncertainty in Physics and Computation (M A Stay)

* Indeterminism and Randomness Through Physics (K Svozil)

* The Martin-Löf-Chaitin Thesis: The Identification by Recursion Theory of the Mathematical Notion of Random Sequence (J-P Delahaye)

*The Road to Intrinsic Randomness(S Wolfram)

* Algorithmic Probability – Its Discovery – Its Properties and Application to Strong AI (R J Solomonoff)

* Algorithmic Randomness as Foundation of Inductive Reasoning and Artificial Intelligence (M Hutter)

* Randomness, Occam’s Razor, AI, Creativity and Digital Physics (J Schmidhuber)

* Randomness Everywhere: My Path to Algorithmic Information Theory (C S Calude)

* The Impact of Algorithmic Information Theory on Our Current Views on Complexity, Randomness, Information and Prediction (P Gács)

* Randomness, Computability and Information (J S Miller)

* Studying Randomness Through Computation (A Nies)

* Computability, Algorithmic Randomness and Complexity (R G Downey)

* Is Randomness Native to Computer Science? Ten Years After (M Ferbus-Zanda & S Grigorieff)

* Randomness as Circuit Complexity (and the Connection to Pseudorandomness) (E Allender)

* Randomness: A Tool for Constructing and Analyzing Computer Programs (A Kucera)

* Connecting Randomness to Computation (M Li)

* From Error-correcting Codes to Algorithmic Information Theory (L Staiger)

* Randomness in Algorithms (O Watanabe)

* Panel Discussion Transcription (University of Vermont, Burlington, 2007): Is the Universe Random? (C S Calude et al.)

* What is Computation? (How) Does Nature Compute? (C S Calude et al.)

June 24, 2011 at 11:54 pm

Do you know there is something called unsubscribing from a list? World Scientific is one of the most serious scientific publishers. I would be surprised if you cannot just click on unsubscribing and stop what you are calling ‘spam’ =)

On the other hand, if I understand, because you don’t like Toffoli and Wolfram then the book (and the 30 authors that are, as the book says, experts in their fields, particularly computability and complexity theory) are worthless?

In defense of Wolfram, you should probably mention that he was one of the most prolific computer scientists in the 80s in the field of cellular automata with about 40 papers published in peer reviewed journals, without mentioning the creation of one of the most used, if not the most, algebra systems (Mathematica). I don’t think you can just disqualify whatever he may want to say about the subject. Cheers.

June 25, 2011 at 6:59 am

If you’d care to read my review of Randomness through Computation, you would see that I am not dismissing the 30 authors are “worthless”. Some chapters are indeed worthless and cannot be seen as scientific contributions, and those are the chapters I am criticising. E.g., Wolfram’s chapter. I started reading the book because I though it could bring some light on pseudo-random generation and on the claims that some generators are “truly random”. It did not. End of the story.

August 21, 2011 at 12:41 pm

xi’an, you say:

“I thought it could bring some light on pseudo-random generation and on the claims that some generators are ‘truly random’. It did not.”

How could you for a second think that a pseudo-random generator could be truly random? That only tells how little a statistician can know about randomness other than just using randomness for various, often non-sense, research.

With all due respect, qualifying a book, which has among the contributors the greatest leaders in the field, as a ‘spam book’, also tells a lot of your ignorance in the field.

June 22, 2011 at 12:17 am

[…] few months ago, I received a puzzling advertising for this book, Randomness through Computation, and I eventually ordered it, despite getting a […]

February 6, 2011 at 12:12 am

[…] limited interest per se, although with immense consequences for conducting inference). Through the “spam” book mentioned earlier this week, I noticed that the same (or even worse) fatal attraction holds for […]