The World Wide Web is truly astounding. It has changed the way we interact, learn and innovate. It is the largest sociotechnical system humankind has created and is advancing at a pace that leaves most in awe. It is an unavoidable fact that the future of the world is now inextricably linked to the future of the Web. Almost every day it appears to change, to get better and increase its hold on us. For all this we are starting to see underlying stability emerge. The way that Web sites rank in terms of popularity, for example, appears to follow laws with which we are familiar. What is fascinating is that these laws were first discovered, not in fields like computer science or information technology, but in what we regard as more fundamental disciplines like biology, physics and mathematics. Consequently the Web, although synthetic at its surface, seems to be quite 'natural' deeper down, and one of the driving aims of the new field of Web Science is to discover how far down such ’naturalness’ goes. If the Web is natural to its core, that raises some fundamental questions. It forces us, for example, to ask if the central properties of the Web might be more elemental than the truths we cling to from our understandings of the physical world. In essence, it demands that we question the very nature of information. Understanding Information and Computation is about such questions and one possible route to potentially mind-blowing answers.
'Phil Tetlow was not only one of the world's first Web Scientists, but he takes great pleasure in pushing hard on just about every boundary within reach. His ideas are both fresh and profound and I am really pleased to see a work from him that will keep us all thinking. It is bound to be controversial, but then what is science without controversy?' Professor Dame Wendy Hall DBE FRS FREng ’Phil enjoys challenging current thinking. He is an engaging and thoughtful teacher’ - Paul Martynenko, Vice President & Technical Executive, IBM Europe
Contents: Foreword, Yorick Wilks; Foreword. L.J. Rich; Preface; Introduction; Dot-to-dots point the way; Hitler, Turing and quantum mechanics; A different perspective on numbers, straight lines and other such mathematical curiosities; Twists, turns and nature's preference for curves; Curves of curves; To process or not?; Information and computation as a field; Why are conic sections important?; The gifts that Newton gave, Turing opened and which no chapter one has really appreciated yet; Einstein's torch bearers; Special relativity; General relativity; Beyond the fourth dimension; Time to reformulate with a little help from information retrieval research; Supporting evidence; Where does this get us?; References; Index.