Wolfram Blog
Christopher Carlson

Announcing the Winners of the 2014 One-Liner Competition

November 10, 2014 — Christopher Carlson, Senior User Interface Developer, User Interfaces

This year’s Wolfram Technology Conference once again included the One-Liner Competition, an opportunity for some of the world’s most talented Wolfram Language developers to show us the amazing things you can do with tiny pieces of Wolfram Language code.

In previous years, One-Liner submissions were allowed 140 characters and 2D typesetting constructs. This year, in the spirit of Tweet-a-Program, we limited entries to 128-character, tweetable Wolfram Language programs. That’s right: we challenged them to write a useful or entertaining program that fits in a single tweet.

And the participants rose to the occasion. Entries were blind-judged by a panel of Wolfram Research developers, who awarded two honorable mentions and first, second, and third prizes.

One honorable mention went to Michael Sollami for his “Mariner Valley Flyby,” which takes you on a flight through the terrain of the Mariner Valley on Mars. The judges were greatly impressed by the idea and the effect. Unfortunately, a small glitch in the program is visible at the start of the output, due to an error in the code. Since Michael’s submission is right up against the 128-character limit, it would have taken some clever tweaking to fix it.

Mariner Valley Flyby

Mariner Valley Flyby

An honorable mention also went to Filip Novotný for a program that rolls a “marble” in the direction that you tilt your laptop. Yeah, yeah, we’ve all seen that before; every laptop has an accelerometer these days. But… Filip’s code doesn’t use the accelerometer. Instead, it tracks the view seen by the laptop camera and infers from it the laptop’s tilt. All in 128 characters.

Filip’s entry was also awarded a dishonorable mention for the impressively dense syntax form a@@@b@c@d@e~f~g@h, which kept his entry under the 128-character limit, and kept the judges busy trying to decipher it.


Third place went to Michael Sollami for “Gödel, Escher, Batman,” an intriguing bat-like 3D form, as well as a nice play on the title of Douglas Hofstadter’s book. See if you can figure out how the 3D form derives from the intersections of three orthogonal Batman curve regions.

Gödel, Escher, Batman

Gödel, Escher, Batman

Second place went to Jesse Friedman for his “Spoonerism Generator.” Each time you evaluate his code, you get a different wacky rendering of Poe’s poem The Raven, where the first letters of words that begin with consonants are scrambled.

Incredibly, Jesse claimed one of the few 6-letter Internationalized Resource Identifiers in existence just for the competition, by finding an unusual character (R) that had not yet been snapped up. At 13 years old, Jesse is the youngest prize winner by far in the One-Liner Competition.

Spoonerism Generator

First place went to Alex Hirsbrunner for his “Boeing 767 Flight Range,” a One-Liner entry that actually does something useful. His code makes a world map showing how far a Boeing 767 can fly from the conference location. The judges were impressed by his combined use of SemanticInterpretation, to get at obscure information (the range of the aircraft), and GeoGraphics, to make a nice presentation of it. He even had enough characters to spare to include a title in the graphic, so the whole thing is self-explanatory.

Boeing 767

Thanks to all participants for entertaining us with their abundant creativity. If you have thoughts of attending the Wolfram Technology Conference in 2015, get started now honing your Wolfram Language skills for next year’s One-Liner Competition.

You can see all of this year’s One-Liner entries by downloading this notebook.

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One Comment

Richard J. Gaylord

much of the code here do not actually qualify as one-liners because they start with assignment statements, separate from the code that then follows. (they can probably be made into one-liners but i haven’t tried). to see how a one-liner should look, see code written in the programming langages of APL and J (unfortunately these are now essentially ‘dead’ languages whose use is limited to the financial community). or you can look at the bowlOfCherries one-liner for the Game of Life at the end of WL Fundamentals tutorial (some would say the WLLife program at the end of the tutorial is also a one-liner but it is really just a function call to the built-in CellularAutomaton function (note: in that section, i say that i don’t understand the meanngs of the arguments in CellularAutomaton but it has been pointed out to me that it is explained in a lecture given at the NKS summer school that can be viewed at (https://www.wolframscience.com/summerschool/resources/NKSCA-phillips-ss04.cdf). but these are all nice programs even if they aren’t one-liners.

Posted by Richard J. Gaylord    December 1, 2014 at 5:38 am

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