BCS SPA 5th Jan 2005

Immo H√ľneke has mercilessly bullied me into speaking at a BCS SPA meeting in central London. It'll be essentially the same talk I gave to the North East branch - a hotch potch of interesting quotes and various related topics loosely knitted together into something vaguely resembling a presentation.

The End of Certainty

is the title of an excellent book by Ilya Prigogine. It's subtitled Time, Chaos, and the New Laws of Nature and I reckon at least two of those three apply to software. Prigogine is a Nobel Prize winner (in Chemistry) and has worked on problems of non-equilibrium, complexity, self-organization, entropy, etc, for over four decades. Rather than writing an extensive review I'm going to open the book at a few random pages...
A nonequilibrium system may evolve spontaneously to a state of increased complexity.
Bifurcations are a source of symmetry breaking...Bifurcations are the manifestation of an intrinsic differentiation between parts of the system and its environment.
Once we have dissipative structures we can speak on self-organization.
...order can only be maintained by self-organization.
...constraints do not eliminate creativity, they provoke it.
...our position is that classical mechanics is incomplete because it does not include irreversible processes associated with an increase in entropy.
There is a necessary trade off between certainty at a given time for continuity through time.