Wolfram Computation Meets Knowledge

Date Archive: 2012 May

Announcements & Events

Announcing Wolfram SystemModeler

Explore the contents of this article with a free Wolfram SystemModeler trial. Today I'm excited to be able to announce that our company is moving into yet another new area: large-scale system modeling. Last year, I wrote about our plans to initiate a new generation of large-scale system modeling. Now we are taking a major step in that direction with the release of Wolfram SystemModeler. SystemModeler is a very general environment that handles modeling of systems with mechanical, electrical, thermal, chemical, biological, and other components, as well as combinations of different types of components. It's based---like Mathematica---on the very general idea of representing everything in symbolic form. In SystemModeler, a system is built from a hierarchy of connected components---often assembled interactively using SystemModeler's drag-and-drop interface. Internally, what SystemModeler does is to derive from its symbolic system description a large collection of differential-algebraic and other equations and event specifications---which it then solves using powerful built-in hybrid symbolic-numeric methods. The result of this is a fully computable representation of the system---that mirrors what an actual physical version of the system would do, but allows instant visualization, simulation, analysis, or whatever. Here's an example of SystemModeler in action---with a 2,685-equation dynamic model of an airplane being used to analyze the control loop for continuous descent landings:
Announcements & Events

Mathematica Experts Live: Visualization Q&A 2012

For the first time, we're holding a virtual event in a new talk-show format. We'll put Mathematica experts live on camera to answer your questions about visualization. Our host will accept questions in real time and pass them to three of our graphics experts. You can also submit your question when you register for the event. We will be prepared to address questions on graphics and visualizations, similar to these: How can I add a drop shadow to my plot? How can I independently color different sides of a surface? How can I turn several locators on and off on a graphic with a mouse click? How can I make an x-y scatter plot with auxiliary histograms placed next to the x-y axes? How can I create an intertwined graphic like the one below? The virtual event will be held Tuesday, May 22, from 11am to noon Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).
Education & Academic

Announcing Wolfram Finance Platform

One key project for me recently has been the new Wolfram Finance Platform, which I am pleased to announce today. This is a major new initiative for us to create the ultimate computation environment for finance. It builds on our existing computational technology with extra capabilities and professional support services. As part of this, I spent some time interviewing finance customers in the city of London about what they liked and didn't like about Mathematica, what they wanted, and why some of their colleagues didn't use it.
Announcements & Events

Looking to the Future of A New Kind of Science

(This is the third in a series of posts about A New Kind of Science. Previous posts have covered the original reaction to the book and what's happened since it was published.) Today ten years have passed since A New Kind of Science ("the NKS book") was published. But in many ways the development that started with the book is still only just beginning. And over the next several decades I think its effects will inexorably become ever more obvious and important. Indeed, even at an everyday level I expect that in time there will be all sorts of visible reminders of NKS all around us. Today we are continually exposed to technology and engineering that is directly descended from the development of the mathematical approach to science that began in earnest three centuries ago. Sometime hence I believe a large portion of our technology will instead come from NKS ideas. It will not be created incrementally from components whose behavior we can analyze with traditional mathematics and related methods. Rather it will in effect be "mined" by searching the abstract computational universe of possible simple programs. And even at a visual level this will have obvious consequences. For today's technological systems tend to be full of simple geometrical shapes (like beams and boxes) and simple patterns of behavior that we can readily understand and analyze. But when our technology comes from NKS and from mining the computational universe there will not be such obvious simplicity. Instead, even though the underlying rules will often be quite simple, the overall behavior that we see will often be in a sense irreducibly complex. So as one small indication of what is to come---and as part of celebrating the first decade of A New Kind of Science---starting today, when Wolfram|Alpha is computing, it will no longer display a simple rotating geometric shape, but will instead run a simple program (currently, a 2D cellular automaton) from the computational universe found by searching for a system with the right kind of visually engaging behavior.
Announcements & Events

One Year of Daily Tips from @MathematicaTip

It's been one year since we launched our Twitter feed for bite-sized Mathematica hints and tips! Thousands of people follow @MathematicaTip to get a new tip every day, Monday through Friday, covering everything from keyboard shortcuts:

Instead of using % to refer to the most recent output, try Ctrl+Shift+L (Mac: Cmd+Shift+L) to directly insert the output from above.

— MathematicaTip (@MathematicaTip) October 10, 2011
Computation & Analysis

From the Wolfram Science Summer School to Wolfram|Alpha Pro

In spring 2011, while adding the finishing touches to my PhD dissertation, I decided to enroll in the Wolfram Science Summer School (then called the NKS Summer School). I never suspected that my project at the Summer School would lead to a job and my involvement in one of the central features of Wolfram|Alpha Pro. During my years as a graduate student I had the chance to live in three different countries and experience different working environments: other than my native Italy, I lived in Paris, where my PhD was based at ENS, and in Princeton, where I was lucky enough to spend time at the Institute for Advanced Study. However, at the end of my PhD, I felt that most of my interest in what I was doing was gone and that I needed to try something new. Once at the Summer School, I had the chance to meet and chat with Stephen Wolfram as he helped me come up with a problem to work on. One of the first things I told him was that I was weary of open-ended academic kinds of problems and I was afraid no one was ever going to read my papers. I said that I wanted to deal with intellectual challenges, but I also wanted to tackle something that had a clear beginning and end. His reply came as a disappointment, since what he suggested I work on was both completely outside my area of expertise and clearly one of those impossibly wide problems that I was now skeptical of. What did he say?