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October 14, 2020 52 min

On the one hand, we have math: a world of forms and patterns, a priori logic, timeless and consistent. On the other, we have physics: messy and embodied interactions, context-dependent and contingent on a changing world. And yet, many people get the two confused, including physicists and mathematicians. Where the two meet, and the nature of the boundary between them, is a matter of debate — one of the greatest puzzles known to science and philosophy — but some things can be said for sure about what can and cannot be accomplished in the search for ever-better models of our world. One is that every model must contain assumptions, and that there’s no way to prove a given strategy will outperform all others in all possible scenarios. This insight, captured in the legendary No Free Lunch theorems by SFI’s David Wolpert and William Macready, has enormous implications for the way think about intelligence, computers, and the living world.  In the twenty-plus years since its publication, No Free Lunch has sparked intense debate about the kinds of claims we are, and are not, justified in making…

Welcome to COMPLEXITY, the official podcast of the Santa Fe Institute. I’m your host, Michael Garfield, and every other week we’ll bring you with us for far-ranging conversations with our worldwide network of rigorous researchers developing new frameworks to explain the deepest mysteries of the universe. This week we speak with SFI Professor David Wolpert about the No Free Lunch Theorems and what they mean for life, the universe, and everything…


Dive into David Wolpert’s website:

and Google Scholar page:


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