Archaeology, Data Mining, & Eureqa

Clever folks at Cornell have invented an algorithm that can study datasets, and deduce the underlying mathematical relationships within it. On test data describing pendulums and other such things, the program worked out the laws of motion in an afternoon.

Remember how long it took humanity to figure that out?

Anyway, a description of ‘Eureqa’ is over at Wired.

As I read the information about the program, it seems that it couldn’t be simpler to use. If you can describe it in a spreadsheet, Eureqa can plumb its depths. This got me to thinking about archaeological data. We’ve got reams of the stuff. I wonder what would happen if we ran this program on it? Would it even be appropriate to do so? I’m thinking landscape data, GIS stuff, would probably be the right thing to test it on… hmmm.

Eureqa is a software tool for detecting equations and hidden mathematical relationships in your data. Its primary goal is to identify the simplest mathematical formulas which could describe the underlying mechanisms that produced the data. Eureqa is free to download and use. Below you will find the downloadable program, video tutorial, user forum, and other and reference materials.

If you publish work based on results generated by this program, please cite Schmidt M., Lipson H. (2009) “Distilling Free-Form Natural Laws from Experimental Data,” Science, Vol. 324, no. 5923, pp. 81 – 85.