Events Spring 2018

Words, Pictures, Programs: Communicating Computational Science

Feb 1, 2018 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm 

Add to Calendar


Brian Hayes, Simons Institute Journalist in Residence 


Calvin Lab auditorium 

For millennia, words and pictures have been our primary means of communication. They are the tools we rely on to explain ideas, to tell stories, and to organize our own private thoughts. They work beautifully together, and sometimes we even blend them to form messages that are both linguistic and pictorial: . But there are also circumstances where words and pictures are not quite enough to capture the essence of an idea. For 40 years I have struggled to explain certain computational processes, where the ideal medium would include not just a verbal description and static illustrations but also a running program. Finally we are on the threshold of an age where programs can be integrated into written discourse just as easily as photographs or diagrams or emoji. In an ongoing project called Tinkering with the Universe, I will invite readers not only to run programs but also to read and modify the source code, then observe how the program’s behavior changes.

Light refreshments will be served after the lecture, at 3:30 p.m.