Archive for the ‘WolframAlpha’ Category

A Closed Future for Mathematics?

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

A Closed Future for Mathematics? by Eric Raymond.

From the post:

In a blog post on Computational Knowledge and the Future of Pure Mathematics Stephen Wolfram lays out a vision that is in many ways exciting and challenging. What if all of mathematics could be expressed in a common formal notation, stored in computers so it is searchable and amenable to computer-assisted discovery and proof of new theorems?

… to be trusted, the entire system will need to be transparent top to bottom. The design, the data representations, and the implementation code for its software must all be freely auditable by third-party mathematical topic experts and mathematically literate software engineers.

Eric identifies three (3) types of errors that may exist inside the proposed closed system from Wolfram.

Is transparency of a Wolfram solution the only way to trust a Wolfram solution?

For any operation or series of operations performed with Wolfram software, you could perform the same operation in one or more open or closed source systems and see if the results agree. The more often they agree for some set of operations the greater your confidence in those operations with Wolfram software.

That doesn’t mean that the next operation or a change in the order of operations is going to produce a trustworthy result. Just that for some specified set of operations in a particular order with specified data that you obtained the same result from multiple software solutions.

It could be that all the software solutions implement the same incorrect algorithm, the same valid algorithm incorrectly, or errors in search engines searching a mathematical database (which could only be evaluated against the data being searched).

Where N is the number of non-Wolfram software packages you are using to check the Wolfram-based solution and W represents the amount of work to obtain a solution, the total work required is N x W.

In addition to not resulting in the trust Eric is describing, it is an increase in your workload.

I first saw this in a tweet by Michael Nielsen.

Wolfram Programming Cloud Is Live!

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Wolfram Programming Cloud Is Live! by Stephen Wolfram.

From the post:

Twenty-six years ago today we launched Mathematica 1.0. And I am excited that today we have what I think is another historic moment: the launch of Wolfram Programming Cloud—the first in a sequence of products based on the new Wolfram Language.

Wolfram Programming Cloud

My goal with the Wolfram Language in general—and Wolfram Programming Cloud in particular—is to redefine the process of programming, and to automate as much as possible, so that once a human can express what they want to do with sufficient clarity, all the details of how it is done should be handled automatically.

I’ve been working toward this for nearly 30 years, gradually building up the technology stack that is needed—at first in Mathematica, later also in Wolfram|Alpha, and now in definitive form in the Wolfram Language. The Wolfram Language, as I have explained elsewhere, is a new type of programming language: a knowledge-based language, whose philosophy is to build in as much knowledge about computation and about the world as possible—so that, among other things, as much as possible can be automated.

The Wolfram Programming Cloud is an application of the Wolfram Language—specifically for programming, and for creating and deploying cloud-based programs.

How does it work? Well, you should try it out! It’s incredibly simple to get started. Just go to the Wolfram Programming Cloud in any web browser, log in, and press New. You’ll get what we call a notebook (yes, we invented those more than 25 years ago, for Mathematica). Then you just start typing code.

I am waiting to validate my email address to access the Wolfram portal.

It will take weeks to evaluate some of the claims made for the portal but I can attest that the Wolfram site in general remains very responsive, despite what must be snowballing load today.

That in and of itself is a good sign.


I first saw this in a tweet by Christophe Lalanne.

WolframAlpha Launches Personal Analytics for Facebook

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

WolframAlpha Launches Personal Analytics for Facebook by Kim Rees.

From the post:

WolframAlpha has launched its Personal Analytics for Facebook [] functionality. Simply type “facebook report” into the query box, authorize the app, and view the extensive analysis of your social network. The report shows you details about when you post, what types of things you post, the apps you use, who comments the most on your posts, your most popular images, and the structure of your friend network. You can easily share or embed sections of your report.

The report is incredibly detailed. You can drill down further into most sections. Any item of significance such as names and dates can be clicked to search for more information. It was interesting to find out that I was born under a waning crescent moon (is there anything Stephen Wolfram doesn’t know?!). I don’t use Facebook much, but this service makes Facebook fun again.

How would you contrast the ease of use factor of visual drill down with the ASCII art style of Cypher in Neo4j?

What user communities would prefer one over the other?