"Then it is dark; a night where kings in golden suits ride elephants over the mountains." - John Cheever

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Secret Life of Chaos

Did anyone see The Secret Life of Chaos on BBC4 last night? Excellent documentary on chaos theory. You'll have heard some of it before (Turing, Mandelbrot etc.), but it was a very watchable and well put together overview, nicely directed, and not much actual maths! They get into the relationship between chaos and evolution, and there's a fascinating bit where some maths geniuses develop a programme that enables a computer to learn how to make a little virtual avatar guy walk around without falling over. What they actually do is produce 100 different avatar-controlling programmes, then let the computer evolve a better programme through natural selection. It ends up with a far more sophisticated ability to control the avatar than a human would have been able to programme from scratch. It's repeated a few times (see the link), including next Saturday (17th) at 8.30pm, or is on iPlayer.

1 comment:

whale-egged said...

Just watched this on iPlayer - the evolving program was a bit overplayed in terms of how incredible the theory was, but the results are quite fascinating really. I'd be interested to find out more about how much they feed their models and how much truly 'evolves.'