My Wolfram Tech Conference 2016 Highlights
Here are just a handful of things I heard while attending my first Wolfram Technology Conference:
- “We had a nearly 4-billion-time speedup on this code example.”
- “We’ve worked together for over 9 years, and now we’re finally meeting!”
- “Coding in the Wolfram Language is like collaborating with 200 or 300 experts.”
- “You can turn financial data into rap music. Instead, how about we turn rap music into financial data?”
As a first-timer from the Wolfram Blog Team attending the Technology Conference, I wanted to share with you some of the highlights for me—making new friends, watching Wolfram Language experts code and seeing what the Wolfram family has been up to around the world this past year.
Over one hundred talks
I was only able to attend one talk at a time, and with over a hundred talks going on over three days, there was no way I could see everything—but what I saw, I loved. Tuesday evening, Stephen Wolfram kicked off the event with his fantastic keynote presentation, giving an overview of the present and future of Wolfram Research, demoing live the new features of the Wolfram Language and setting the stage for the rest of the conference.
Ask the Experts Panel Q&A
The nice thing about the Technology Conference is that if you’ve had a burning question about how something in the Wolfram Language works, you won’t get a better opportunity to ask the developers face to face. When someone in the audience asked about storing chemical data, the panel asked, “Is Michael Trott in the room?” And sure enough, Michael Trott was sitting a few seats down from me, and he stood up and addressed the question. Now that’s convenient.
The Channel Framework: Essentials and Applications
Probably my favorite speaker was Igor Bakshee, a senior research associate here at Wolfram. He described our new publish-subscribe service, the Channel Framework, which allows asynchronous communication between Wolfram systems without dealing with the details of specific senders and receivers. I especially appreciated Igor’s humor and patience as messages came in from someone in the audience: he raised his hands and insisted it was indeed someone else sending them.
Computational Approaches to Authorship Attribution in a Corpus of 12th-Century Latin Texts
This talk was the one I was most looking forward to, and it was exactly what I wanted. Jakub Kabala talked about how he used Mathematica to compare 12th-century Latin texts in his search to determine if the monk of Lido and Gallus Anonymus were actually the same author. Jakub’s talk will also be in our upcoming virtual conference, so be sure to check that out!
Keeping the Vision: Computation Jockey
It would be downright silly of me to not mention the extremely memorable duo Thomas Carpenter and Daniel “Scantron” Reynolds. The team used Wolfram Language code and JLink to infuse traditional disc jockey and video jockey art with abstract mathematics and visualizations. The experience was made complete when Daniel passed special glasses throughout the audience.
Code competitions and awards
We had the best Wolfram Language programmers all in one place, so of course there had to be competitions! This included both our annual One-Liner Competition and our first after-hours live coding competition on Wednesday night. Phil Maymin won both competitions. Incidentally, in between winning competitions, Phil also gave an energetic presentation, “Sports and eSports Analytics with the Wolfram Language.” Thanks to everyone who participated. Be sure to check out our upcoming blog post on the One-Liner Competition.
Thursday night at Stephen’s Keynote Dinner, six Wolfram Innovator Awards were given out. The Wolfram Innovator Award is our opportunity to recognize people and organizations that have helped bring Wolfram technologies into use around the world. Congratulations again to this year’s recipients, Bryan Minor, Richard Scott, Brian Kanze, Samer Adeeb, Maik Meusel and Ruth Dover!
Like many Wolfram employees around the world, I usually work remote, so a big reason I was eager to go to the Wolfram Technology Conference was to meet people! I got to meet coworkers that I normally only email or talk on the phone with, and I got to speak with people who actually use our technologies and hear what they’ve been up to. After almost every talk, I’d see people shaking hands, trading business cards and exchanging ideas. It was easy to be social at the Technology Conference—everyone there shared an interest in and passion for Wolfram technologies, and the fun was figuring out what that passion was. And Wolfram gave everyone plenty of opportunities for networking and socializing, with lunches, dinners and meet-ups throughout the conference.
See you next year!
Attending the Wolfram Technology Conference has been the highlight of my year. The speakers were great across the board, and a special thanks goes to the technical support team that dealt with network and display issues in stride. I strongly encourage everyone interested in Wolfram technologies to register for next year’s conference, and if you bump into me, please feel free to say hi!