An entry point to the speculative and experimental use of algorithms and computers is the Fermi-Pasta-Ulam experiment from 1953. Implemented in one of the early electronic computing machines (the MANIAC I), it consisted of a one dimensional system composed of 64 particles, whose ends were fixed, and the particles were connected by a selection of forces: quadratic, cubic, and "broken"-linear. Their main finding was that there was an apparent lack of equipartition of energy amongst the available degrees of freedom, even after as many as 10,000 cycles. Furthermore, Fermi also noted that often the behaviour of the systems was quite different from what intuition would have led them to expect. The FPU experiment was a pure speculation, as no physical correlate to the system exists.
This aspect of computation, its speculative potential and its intrinsic experimental character was proposed as a ground principle of the workshop. From this perspective,
- There is no single solution that an algorithm produces. The experiments consists in observing a temporal behavior.
- There is no arriving point or convergence the process has to arrive to. Given different parameters the behavior is observed and properties are inferred.
- The absence of an arrival point produces a dilatation of the space between start and (an arbitrary) end, and marks the essentially temporal dimension along which algorithms extend.