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Stewart Dean's Guide to Artificial Life

People : Visionaries and Evangelists

Some of the people involved or connected with Alife. NB this is a quick and old list and I've probably missed off some very important people. Any alterations would be gratefully received.

Edward Lorenz

Lorenz is to Chaos theory what Newton was to gravity. For Newton it was apples, for Lorenz it was a boiled down weather system. From weather Lorenz went on to explore other apparently random systems and tame them with maths.

Tom Ray

A biologist turned computer programmer who created an environment inside a laptop computer that included all the basics of normal life including predators, prey and parasites. This environment was Tierra and is now making it's way onto the web.

Von Neumann

The father of Alife. His work precedes nearly all others mentioned here. Many of his best ideas where conceived as he died of cancer.

Jon Conway

Jon Conway was the creator of the rules of the program life, using the ideas of Von Neumann. He was born in Liverpool and studied Maths at Cambridge University where he became known as 'the professor'. Conway's life remains the most popular incantation of Cellular automata and has provided the spark that resulted in the passion of many other Alifers including Chris Langton.

Chris Langton.

Chris Langton is often referred to as the Midwife of artificial life. He was the first to use the phrase alife. His work on Cellular Automata has produced some ground breaking results which all started when he invested in a Apple II computer in the early 80's.

Stephen Levy

Stephen Levy has played a part in popularising the field of Alife with his book - Artificial Life, The Quest for a New Creation. He is a reporter first, interested in computing and its effects. He is currently working on a book about encryption.

Larry Yeager

Larry Yeager is the creator of the a complex environment inhabited by artificial creatures. The world was called PolyWorld. It was a finite world inhabited by different species of creatures that breed, die, move, eat and get eaten.

Arstid Lindenmayer

Father of L-systems, cellular automata that produce results very much like those found in natural growth.

Richard Dawkins

Author of 'The Blind Watchmaker' and 'The Selfish Gene' which have popularising the fields of genetics and evolution. Often a preacher of atheism Dawkins has backed up his writings by producing a program called Biomorphs which uses Evolution as a tool for creating strange bugs and shapes on the computer screen.

William Latham

Best described as a computer based genetic sculptor. His work with Stephen Todd and others has produced some staggering beautiful and eerie effects. See the section on the uses of Alife for more details.

James Doyne Farmer.

An adventure in the laws of logic, not only in maths but in real world environments. Born in 1952 and infamous for attending his graduation in a gorilla suit as a comment about the Viatnam war. One of the sparks that started him on his quest was the short story "The Last Question." by Isaac Asimov.

Lee Smolin.

In the quest for a theory of everything Lee Smolin has taken a few steps back and applied concepts such as evolution to cosmology. His book, The Life of the Cosmos is a courageous exploration of his theories which offer possibilities beyond those of more top down thinkers.

Please send any corrections, comments or additions to: alife(at)stewdean(dot)com

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