Wolfram Computation Meets Knowledge

Date Archive: 2009 June

Announcements & Events

Stephen Wolfram on the Quest for Computable Knowledge

Stephen Wolfram recently received an award for his contributions to computer science. The following is a slightly edited transcript of the speech he gave on that occasion. I want to talk about a big topic here today: the quest for computable knowledge. It's a topic that spans a lot of history, and that I've personally spent a long time working on. I want to talk about the history. I want to talk about my own efforts in this direction. And I want to talk about what I think the future holds.
Design & Visualization

Musical Archaeology with Mathematica

While tidying up after my kids once again, I found myself staring at the toy shown below and thinking of a conversation that I had had with an archaeologist Mathematica user a few days before. He had been interested in image processing of aerial photographs, but it occurred to me that image processing would also allow reconstruction of the musical secrets of this precious artifact that I had just uncovered in the remains of a lost toy civilization. Well, this should be fun for 5–10 minutes. The toy is a music box, where you crank the handle to turn the drum that has pins on it to pluck the prongs to the left. Can I discover the tune, without having to move the parts?
Announcements & Events

Making the Most of Mathematica at Maker Faire

During the last weekend of May, I was one of the representatives for Wolfram Research at Maker Faire at the San Mateo County Expo Center in San Mateo, California. Maker Faire is the largest do-it-yourself (DIY) festival, organized annually by Make Magazine. Participants come from a wide variety of groups involved in projects related to arts, crafts, music, sculpting, robotics, engineering, and so on. The participants are aptly named makers, and their creations are showcased in this two-day family-friendly event. While I don't have the exact figures, the number of people at this faire was around 78,000.
Announcements & Events

100,000 Posts to MathGroup

The Mathematica mailing list and internet newsgroup comp.soft-sys.math.mathematica (called MathGroup for short) have been in existence for more than twenty years now. In January 2005, we passed the 50,000-message mark. Now, in only a little more than four years, we have added another 50,000. I want to take this opportunity to talk about the history of this effort—how it was started and what is involved in its operation. While it may sound like trials and tribulations, it is actually fun, and I have learned a lot about Mathematica and its uses and users, and about servers, the internet, and general social interactions over the years.
Education & Academic

Mathematica and Enthusiastic K–8 Teachers

I just visited Washington, DC, and I find myself returning with a renewed sense of enthusiasm. Did this have something to do with the progression from mild rain to what could be the first sunny, summer days of the year? Or seeing the nation's capitol in person? Partially, yes. But the larger factor was attending the 2009 National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Conference, and, you guessed it, talking about Mathematica and mathematics education for several days! I've attended five NCTM conferences over my ten years with Wolfram Research, and I always find the teachers' enthusiasm contagious. They constantly look for new ways to inspire their students, while at the same time building a strong foundation in mathematics. Teachers usually have clever ways to share information and spend countless hours trying new ideas and new presentation styles.