Wolfram Computation Meets Knowledge

Date Archive: 2015 May

Education & Academic

John F. Nash, Jr. , In Memoriam

This past week, on May 23, 2015, the much loved and respected John F. Nash Jr., along with his wife, Alicia Nash, passed away in a tragic car accident while returning home from his receipt of the 2015 Abel Prize for his work in partial differential equations. The Nobel winner and his wife were the subject of the 2001 Academy Award winning film A Beautiful Mind. Nash's most famous contribution to mathematics and economics was in the field of game theory, which has enabled others to build on that work and was the focus of the film. Nash's long career as a mathematician was marked by both brilliant achievements and terrible struggles with mental illness. Despite his battle with schizophrenia, Nash inspired generations of mathematicians and garnered a stunning array of awards, including the 1994 Nobel Prize in economic sciences, the American Mathematical Society's 1999 Leroy P. Steele Prize for Seminal Contribution to Research, and the 1978 John von Neumann Theory Prize. We were personally honored in 2003 when Nash presented his work with Mathematica at the International Mathematica Symposium in London.
Leading Edge

New in the Wolfram Language: AnglePath

A brilliant aspect of the Wolfram Language is that not only you can do virtually anything with it, you can also do whatever you want in many different ways. You can choose the method you prefer, or even better, try several methods to understand your problem from different perspectives. For example, when drawing a graphic, we usually specify the coordinates of its points or elements. But sometimes it's simpler to express the graphic as a collection of relative displacements: move a distance r in a direction forming an angle θ with respect to the direction of the segment constructed in the previous step. This is known as turtle graphics in computer graphics, and is basically what the new function AnglePath does. If all steps have the same length, use AnglePath[{θ1,θ2,...}] to specify the angles. If each step has a different length, use AnglePath[{{r1,θ1},{r2,θ2}, ...}] to give the pairs {length, angle}. That's it. Let's see some results.
Education & Academic

Biggest Little Polyhedron—New Solutions in Combinatorial Geometry

In many areas of mathematics, 1 is the answer. Squaring a number above or below 1 results in a new number that is larger or smaller. Sometimes, determining whether something is "big" is based on whether a largest dimension is greater than 1. For instance, with sides of length 13,800 km, Saturn's hexagon would be considered big. A "little polygon" is defined as a polygon where 1 is the maximum distance between vertices. In 1975, Ron Graham found the biggest little hexagon, which has more area than the regular hexagon, as shown below. The red diagonals have length 1. All other diagonals (not drawn) are smaller than 1.
Announcements & Events

Registration for the 2015 Wolfram Technology Conference Now Open!

The 2015 Wolfram Technology Conference is officially on the horizon, and we are getting excited to show you what we've been doing with the Wolfram Language and our growing technology stack. While assembling your calendar for the rest of the year, be sure to save the date for our conference from October 20--22, 2015. Registration is now open, so be sure to secure your spot and submit any talk proposals you may have. If you're looking for inspiration or just want a taste of what's to come, videos from last year's conference are available on our website. We saw an impressive array of presentations from both guests and our very own developers; below is a sampling of some of the most engaging innovations and projects that were shown.
Leading Edge

New in the Wolfram Language: Cryptography

Cryptography has existed for thousands of years, but before serious computers came around, only specific kinds of messages were worth encrypting. Now that computers routinely manage a huge amount of communication, there is little downside to invisibly applying cryptography to almost everything, from verifying where information comes from to exchanging information securely. Because of cryptography’s widespread use, we added the basic building blocks of modern cryptography to the Wolfram Language with functions using OpenSSL for key generation, symmetric encryption/decryption, and asymmetric encryption/decryption. The notion of a key in cryptography is similar to the way we use keys in everyday life, in that only someone with a certain key can perform a certain action. One very simple way of arranging this is to have a single key that is used to encrypt as well as decrypt, much like the locking and unlocking of a door:
Computation & Analysis

Wolfram Language Artificial Intelligence: The Image Identification Project

“What is this a picture of?” Humans can usually answer such questions instantly, but in the past it’s always seemed out of reach for computers to do this. For nearly 40 years I’ve been sure computers would eventually get there—but I’ve wondered when. I’ve built systems that give computers all sorts of intelligence, much of […]

Computation & Analysis

Spring Planting, Autumn Harvest

Spring is here, finally, and everyone around here is tired of snow this year! Some of the hardier flowers are up already, such as daffodils and hyacinths. So, naturally, I started thinking about when I could put in the more delicate annuals, or even my tomatoes. I don't want them to be bitten by a late frost (we had one the other day!). And in the autumn, we want to know how late we can harvest before a frost might damage the produce. Well, I could consult The Old Farmer's Almanac for the last frost date, but how accurate is it for my specific locale? What about the variability? Might there be a trend to earlier dates due to global warming? To answer these questions, I need historical temperature data. The Wolfram Language has weather data available, so maybe I could do a little data mining and come up with our own planting chart, and you could for your town, too.

Ready, Set… Bike! (to Work) — A Data-Fueled Ride for National Bike Month

Everyone remembers their first bike, the scrapes and scars, the hard-earned road rash from learning to ride. Riding a bike is the only skill you never forget (or so the saying tells us), but if you're feeling a little rusty, we know a great way to get reacquainted. Every May since 1956, the League of American Bicyclists has sponsored National Bike Month to highlight the health benefits of bicycling and inspire more people to give it a try. Communities across the country celebrate two-wheeled glory in various ways; among the many events on Champaign-Urbana's Bike Month calendar is Bike to Work (BTW) Day on May 14. Wolfram supports our local BTW Day by providing refreshments at a designated refueling station on State street. Additionally, whether you're biking to work in CU or elsewhere, we would like to fully prep any intrepid cyclists planning to embark on such a journey by pulling together some vital information.
Education & Academic

A Smart Programming Language for a Smart Cities Hackathon

On Friday, February 20, I had the pleasure of giving a talk to a group of young and smart individuals enlisted to represent Barcelona in the Global Urban Datafest. For this hackathon, the organizers offered one Raspberry Pi platform per team and a variety of sensors to capture physical parameters. Their list of suggested project topics included data acquisition and actuation, monitoring and management, security transport and mobility, the environment, and more. The event lasted three days and was locally organized by Anna Calveras and Josep Paradells with the help of Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Barcelona's City Council, iCity Project, Urbiotica, IBM, and Wolfram Research.