MacArthur Fellows Program

MacArthur Fellows / Meet the Class of June 1981

Stephen Wolfram

Computer Scientist and Physicist

Pasadena, California

Age: 21 at time of award

Published June 1, 1981

Stephen Wolfram works in basic science and practical computing.

Building on his discoveries in the early 1980s, Wolfram’s scientific work involves the development of a major new approach to science, in which nature is described in terms of simple computer programs rather than traditional mathematical equations.  His work provides new foundations for examining a range of fundamental questions in physics, biology, computer science, mathematics, and other areas.  Wolfram is also involved in the development of software for technical computing.  He is the creator of Mathematica Version 1.0 (1988), a system and language for technical computing now used by more than a million scientists, engineers, students, and others.

Wolfram is the president and chief executive officer of Wolfram Research, Inc., a company concerned with advanced computing technology and responsible for producing Mathematica.  Prior to founding the company in 1986, he served on the faculties of the California Institute of Technology, the School of Natural Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  He is the author of A New Kind of Science (2002) and The Mathematica Book (5th ed., 2003).

Wolfram studied at Eton College and the University of Oxford, and received a Ph.D. (1979) from the California Institute of Technology.

Last updated January 1, 2005.

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