Press release

Stephen Wolfram Announces $30,000 in Prizes in Rule 30 Contest

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Stephen Wolfram announced a contest that included a $25,000 prize to the first individual to successfully determine if Wolfram’s 2,3 Turning machine was or was not, in fact, universal, in 2007. After four months of computational examinations, Alex Smith was able to uncover the solution that proved the 2,3 Turing machine is, in fact, universal.

Today, a new contest has been announced that centers around the rule 30 cellular automaton. Nearly 40 years after Wolfram’s first exposure to rule 30, it remains one of the most influential rules that he has observed.

“Over the years, it’s changed my whole worldview and led me to all sorts of science, technology, philosophy…” says Wolfram about his favorite rule.

Some questions regarding the rule still remain unsolved, so Wolfram has officially announced $30,000 in prizes for solutions to three of those important, unanswered questions. Each question carries a $10,000 prize:

  1. Does the center column always remain non-periodic?
  2. Does each color of cell occur on average equally often in the center column?
  3. Does computing the nth cell of the center column require at least O(n) computational effort?

According to Wolfram, “I don’t know if the three problems are somehow ‘comparably difficult’—or if one or two might be solved, with the others holding out for a very long time. But what I am sure about is that solving any of the problems will be a significant achievement.”

Anyone interested in submitting a solution to any of the problems must do so in the form of a technical research paper. Should a solution be deemed correct, the corresponding submission will be published. Submissions can be made through the official contest website:

A distinguished prize committee has been appointed to evaluate all contest submissions. This committee includes highly respected professionals in computer science, mathematics and physics. Interested participants can obtain a full list of contest rules on the official website.

About Wolfram Research

Wolfram Research has been defining the computational future for three decades. As the creator of Mathematica, Wolfram|Alpha and the Wolfram Language, Wolfram Research is the leader in developing technology and tools that inject sophisticated computational intelligence into everything. Learn more at