Stephen Wolfram Q&A

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Some collected questions and answers by Stephen Wolfram

Questions may be edited for brevity; see links for full questions.

September 30, 1996

From: Interview by Robers Lee Hotz, Los Angeles Times

You went from Caltech to the Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies to the University of Illinois, and now you are on your own. Is it easier outside the university?

My view about doing basic science is that if you have no choice, then getting paid by a university is a fine thing to do. If you have a choice, there are a lot better ways to live.

In my life now, where I am a CEO of a company, the actual fraction of my time that I can get to devote to basic science thinking is probably much larger than the fraction of time that a typical senior professor at a university would get to devote to actual basic research. If you are a senior university professor, you are out raising money from the government, being on committees, teaching classes, and it is only in the extra bonus time that you get to do research.

I don’t have to beg the government. I don’t have to convince anyone at the National Science Foundation that what I am doing is not as nutty as they might assume or as the peer review system might say it was.

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