PUBLICATION Beijer Discussion Paper

Algorithms and the Shift in Modern Science

In the 1600s science shifted from being expressed in geometric form to being expressed in terms of algebraic equations. This paper argues that a new shift is underway: scientific thought is moving from being expressed in equation form to being expressed in algorithmic form. The shift is deep and it is gradual. It allows “context” to be considered—the situation surrounding the problem at hand. It brings new questions within the reach of science, allows expression of event-driven processes, is closely aligned with complexity science, allows formal expression for procedural sciences such as biology, and constitutes a new form of “theory.”

Keywords: algorithms, complexity, context, equations, event-driven processes, formation, history of algebra, shift in science

W. Brian Arthur. 2020. Beijer Discussion Paper 269: Algorithms and the Shift in Modern Science. Beijer Discussion Paper Series.