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Casti, John L. 1943-

CASTI, John L. 1943-

(J. Casti, J.L. Casti, John Casti, John Louis Casti)

PERSONAL: Born June 16, 1943, in Portland, OR; son of Ernest L. (an upholsterer) and Olivia (a homemaker; maiden name, Nubson) Casti; married Vivien Mary Buck (a translator), December, 1984; children: Stacie McGrady, Alexander. Education: Portland State University, B.S., 1967; University of Southern California, M.S., 1969, Ph.D., 1970.

ADDRESSES: Home—1030 Camino San Acacio, Santa Fe, NM 87501. OfficeSanta Fe Institute, 1660 Old Pecos Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87501. Agent—John A. Ware, 325 Central Park West, New York, NY 10025. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: RAND Corp., Santa Monica, CA, senior researcher, 1967–70; Systems Control Inc., Palo Alto, CA, senior systems analyst, 1970–71; Portland State University, Portland, OR, associate professor, 1971–72; University of Arizona, Tucson, associate professor, 1972–74; International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Laxenburg, Austria, researcher, 1972–76; New York University, New York, NY, professor, 1976–80; Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, professor, 1980–81; Technical University, Vienna, Austria, professor, beginning 1986; Santa Fe Institute, Santa Fe, NM, researcher, 1992–.

MEMBER: American Math Society, Authors Guild, Society for Scientific Exploration, New York Academy of Sciences.

AWARDS, HONORS: Association of American Publishers prize, 1989, for Alternate Realities.

WRITINGS:

NONFICTION

(Under name J.L. Casti, with R. Kalaba and S. Ueno) Invariant Imbedding and the Variational Treatment of Fredholm Integral Equations with Displacement Kernels, RAND Corp. (Santa Monica, CA), 1968.

(Under name J.L. Casti, with H. Kagiwada and R. Kalaba) The Inviariant Imbedding Numerical Methods for Fredholm Integral Equations with Displacement Kernels, RAND Corp. (Santa Monica, CA), 1969.

(Under name J.L. Casti) Power Series and the Numerical Treatment of Initial Value Problems, RAND Corp. (Santa Monica, CA), 1969.

(Under name J.L. Casti) Invariant Imbedding and the Solution of Fredholm Integral Equations with Displacement Kernels, RAND Corp. (Santa Monica, CA), 1970.

(Under name J.L. Casti, with R. Kabala and S. Ueno) A Cauchy System for a Class of Nonlinear Fredholm Integral Equations, RAND Corp. (Santa Monica, CA), 1970.

(Under name John Casti, with Robert Kalaba) Imbedding Methods in Applied Mathematics, Addison-Wesley (Reading, MA), 1973.

Dynamical Systems and Their Applications: Linear Theory, Academic Press (New York, NY), 1977.

(With Robert E. Larson) Principles of Dynamic Programming, two volumes, M. Dekker (New York, NY), 1978–1982.

(Under name John Casti) Connectivity, Complexity, and Catastrophe in Large-Scale Systems, J. Wiley (New York, NY), 1979.

Nonlinear Systems Theory, Academic Press (Orlando, FL), 1985.

(Editor, with Anders Karlqvist) Complexity, Language, and Life: Mathematical Approaches, Springer-Verlag (New York, NY), 1986.

(Editor, under name J. Casti, with D. Batten and B. Johansson) Economic Evolution and Structural Adjustment: Proceedings of Invited Sessions on Economic Evolution and Structural Change Held at the 5th International Conference on Mathematical Modelling at the University of California, Berkeley, California, USA, July 29-31, 1985, Springer-Verlag (New York, NY), 1987

(Editor, with Anders Karlqvist) Real Brains, Artificial Minds, North-Holland, 1987.

Linear Dynamical Systems, Academic Press (Orlando, FL), 1987.

(Editor, under name John Casti, with Anders Karlqvist) Newton to Aristotle: Toward a Theory of Models for Living Systems, Abisko Research Station, 1987.

Paradigms Lost: Images of Man in the Mirror of Science, Morrow (New York, NY), 1989.

Alternate Realities: Mathematical Models of Nature and Man, J. Wiley (New York, NY), 1989.

Searching for Certainty: What Scientists Can Know about the Future, Morrow (New York, NY), 1990.

(Editor, with Anders Karlqvist) Beyond Belief: Randomness, Prediction, and Explanation in Science, CRC Press (Boca Raton, FL), 1991.

Reality Rules: Picturing the World in Mathematics, two volumes, J. Wiley (New York, NY), 1992.

Complexification: Explaining a Paradoxical World Through the Science of Surprise, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1994.

(Editor, with Anders Karlqvist) Cooperation and Conflict in General Evolutionary Processes, J. Wiley (New York, NY), 1995.

(Editor, with David Batten and Roland Thord) Networks in Action: Communication, Economics, and Human Knowledge, Springer-Verlag (New York, NY), 1995.

(Editor, with Anders Karlqvist) Boundaries and Barriers: On the Limits to Scientific Knowledge, Addison-Wesley (Reading, MA), 1996.

Five Golden Rules: Great Theories of Twentieth-Century Mathematics and Why They Matter, J. Wiley (New York, NY), 1996.

Would-Be Worlds: How Simulation Is Changing the Frontiers of Science, J. Wiley (New York, NY), 1997.

The Cambridge Quintet: A Work of Scientific Speculation, Addison Wesley (Reading, MA), 1998.

(Editor, with C.S. Calude and M.J. Dineen) Unconventional Models of Computation, Springer (New York, NY), 1998.

(Editor, with Anders Karlqvist) Mission to Abisko: Stories and Myths in the Creation of Scientific "Truth," Perseus Books (Reading, MA), 1999.

Five More Golden Rules: Knots, Codes, Chaos, and Other Great Theories of Twentieth-Century Mathematics, J. Wiley (New York, NY), 2000.

(With Werner DePauli) Gödel: A Life of Logic, Perseus (Cambridge, MA), 2000.

Paradigms Regained: A Further Exploration of the Mysteries of Modern Science, Morrow (New York, NY), 2000.

Mathematical Mountaintops: The Five Most Famous Problems of All Time, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2001.

The One True Platonic Heaven: A Scientific Fiction on the Limits of Knowledge, Joseph Henry Press (Washington, DC), 2003.

(Editor, with Anders Karlqvist) Art and Complexity, Elsevier (Boston, MA), 2003.

SIDELIGHTS: Author John L. Casti has written and edited many books about math and science, but until 1989 most of them were for specialized audiences. Since then, however, he has penned several explorations of scientific and mathematical questions for a more general readership. In Paradigms Lost: Images of Man in the Mirror of Science, Casti examines six questions that are argued over by many modern scientists, including how life on earth originated, how much of human behavior is determined by genetics, and whether intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe. As Jenny Diski reported in the New Statesman, "Casti has structured his book as a series of trials. In each chapter, he gives the arguments for the accepted wisdom on each topic, calling it the Prosecution. The Defence then makes the case for alternative views; and finally, Casti, as juror, brings in his verdict, based on the evidence and on his self-confessed predilections." A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted that in Paradigms Lost Casti has covered the scientific issues he has chosen to examine "in an engaging, elegant, personal fashion."

In Searching for Certainty: What Scientists Can Know about the Future, published in 1990, Casti discusses how accurately the science of mathematics can help people predict outcomes in different fields. John Wilkes explained in a Los Angeles Times review that in this book, Casti uses "letter grades (with written justifications) to assess how well scientists can explain and predict the stock market, the weather, the outbreak of war, or the course of development of a human being. His grades range from B+ (weather prediction) to D+ (predicting the development of human beings)." While some critics felt Casti's mathematical equations in Searching for Certainty might make things difficult for the average reader, Marek Kohn in the New Statesman quipped: "You might as well try to take the expletives away from [comedian] Eddie Murphy as the equations away from John L. Casti." In the New York Times Book Review, Peter Engel concluded that "the greatest lesson conveyed by … Searching for Certainty is that it is not so much the promise of certainty as the excitement of the search that keeps us going."

The Cambridge Quintet: A Work of Scientific Speculation is a unique book that permits the reader to listen in on the imagined conversation at a scientist's dream dinner party, with the guests C.P. Snow (a scientist and writer), J.B.S. Haldane (a geneticist), Ludwig Wittgenstein (a famous Austrian philosopher), Erwin Schrodinger (a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and creator of the "Schrodinger's cat' paradox), and Alan Turing (a mathematician considered the father of computers). (All of the five had met some of the others, but at no point did a dinner such as this one ever actually occur.) The topic on this evening in 1949 is the question of artificial intelligence, and the probability of humans being able to construct a machine that could reasonably be said to possess it. Turing was already far along in his work on computers, and, although in real life an extremely shy man, in Casti's creation he speaks passionately about the potential for computers to be able to think and to use language meaningfully. Wittgenstein dissents equally passionately, arguing that a computer may be able to mimic thinking and communicating, but that it could not possibility have any sort of understanding or self-consciousness about what it was doing. Technologically, the dinner participants remain in historical character, but Casti lends them a few philosophical arguments that were developed after 1949, including linguist Noam Chomsky's theory of a universal grammar and philosopher John Searle's Chinese Room rebuttal to the Turing Test for artificial intelligence. (The Turing Test states that a computer can be declared intelligent if a human being can converse with it without being able to tell that the machine is not a human being.) "Neither of these ideas was around in 1949," Bryan Appleyard wrote in the New Statesman, "but both seem to spring so organically from the debate that, in this context, they make perfect sense."

"Casti's book provides newcomers with a thoughtful and accessible introduction to the conflict," Wade Roush wrote in Technology Review, "and veterans with a thoughtprovoking review—all enlivened by good company and good food." Laurence A. Marschall, writing in the Sciences, also praised the book, commenting that "Casti has done enough background work to give his characters personalities, and he can set a scene as smoothly as Snow's manservant Simmons can set a table." Although the book covers a serious philosophical and technical argument, "Casti also peppers the text with witticisms for the initiate," Lisa Jardine noted in American Scientist. "Schrodinger, at one point, 'puts the cat among the pigeons' it is Haldane, later to become a passionate vegetarian, who exclaims, "Absolutely first-rate roast beef, Snow.'"

Casti uses the same fictional conversations concept in The One True Platonic Heaven: A Scientific Fiction on the Limits of Knowledge. These conversations—spread out across several venues, not a single dinner—are held in 1946. The topic is whether or not science is able to answer all questions about the world, or if some are logically beyond its reach. The conversants include two groundbreaking mathematicians, John von Neumann and Kurt Gödel; two equally esteemed physicists, J. Robert Oppenheimer and Albert Einstein; and Lewis L. Strauss, a member of the Atomic Energy Commission who had a strong influence on American nuclear policy. "Imagine a physics textbook in which the great scientists suddenly come to life as unpredictable characters sauntering down shady streets," explained Booklist reviewer Byrce Christensen. The One True Platonic Heaven "succeeds in presenting the viewpoints of important historical scientists … [and] in raising valid questions about the scope and limits of scientific endeavor," Gregg Sapp wrote in the Library Journal, while a Science News reviewer noted that it also "provides a candid look at the logical barriers that great scientists have overcome in their pursuits."

Casti is also the author, with Werner DePauli, of a biography of Gödel, titled Gödel: A Life of Logic. Although finding Casti and DePauli's coverage of Gödel's life lacking, Isis reviewer Bonnie Ellen Blustein deemed that "the authors do an admirable job of explaining Gödel's often difficult work." Library Journal contributor Leon H. Brody, on the other hand, wrote that Gödel's work was so complex "that it cannot be made comprehensible in a popular treatment such as this," but found the details of Gödel's personal life, particularly his decline into madness, worthwhile.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Scientist, January-February, 1998, Marshall Specter, review of Boundaries and Barriers: On the Limits to Scientific Knowledge, p. 81; September-October, 1998, Lisa Jardine, review of The Cambridge Quartet: A Work of Scientific Speculation, p. 487.

Booklist, April 1, 1994, Donna Seaman, review of Complexification: Explaining a Paradoxical World Through the Science of Surprise, p. 1413; April 15, 1998, Gilbert Taylor, review of The Cambridge Quintet, p. 1404; April 15, 2003, Bryce Christensen, review of The One True Platonic Heaven: A Scientific Fiction on the Limits of Knowledge, p. 1435.

Discover, November, 2000, Eric Powell, review of Gödel: A Life of Logic, p. 105.

Economist, November 24, 2001, review of Mathematical Mountaintops: The Five Most Famous Problems of All Time.

Futurist, September-October, 1994, review of Complexification, p. 43.

Guardian (Manchester, England), November 7, 1996, Tim Radford and Jim McClellan, "Who's the Human in the Black?," p. S12.

Isis, March, 2003, Bonnie Ellen Blustein, review of Gödel, p. 120.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 1996, review of Would-Be Worlds: How Simulation Is Changing the Frontiers of Science, p. 1201.

Library Journal, April 15, 1998, Hilary Burton, review of The Cambridge Quintet, p. 110; January 1, 2001, Leon H. Brody, review of Gödel, p. 146; May 1, 2003, Gregg Sapp, review of The One True Platonic Heaven, p. 149.

Los Angeles Times, March 5, 1991, John Wilkes, review of Searching for Certainty: What Scientists Can Know about the Future, p. E8.

New Criterion, December, 2000, Martin Gardner, review of Gödel, p. 77; February, 2002, James Franklin, review of Mathematical Mountaintops, p. 72.

New Statesman, December 7, 1990, Jenny Diski, review of Paradigms Lost: Images of Man in the Mirror of Science, p. 40; February 7, 1992, Marek Kohn, review of Searching for Certainty, p. 38; January 16, 1998, Bryan Appleyard, review of The Cambridge Quintet, p. 45.

New York Times Book Review, March 24, 1991, Peter Engel, review of Searching for Certainty, p. 12.

Publishers Weekly, April 21, 1989, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of Paradigms Lost, p. 74; March 16, 1998, review of The Cambridge Quintet, p. 45; March 6, 2000, review of Paradigms Regained: A Further Exploration of the Mysteries of Modern Science, p. 95.

Science News, July 5, 2003, review of The One True Platonic Heaven, p. 15.

Sciences, July-August, 1998, Laurence A. Marschall, review of The Cambridge Quintet, p. 54.

Smithsonian, May, 1999, Paul Trachtman, review of The Cambridge Quintet, p. 135.

Technology Review, May-June, 1998, Wade Roush, review of The Cambridge Quintet, p. 81.

ONLINE

Access the Great Books, http://www.anova.org/ (September 2, 2005), "John L. Casti: Biography."

Santa Fe Institute Web site, http://www.santafe.edu/ (January 10, 2003), "John L. Casti."

Spike Magazine Online, http://www.spikemagazine.com/ (September 2, 2005), Chris Mitchell, review of The Cambridge Quintet.

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