Wolfram Computation Meets Knowledge

Date Archive: 2019 August

Leading Edge

Wolfram Cloud 1.50 and 1.51: Major New Releases Bring Cloud Another Step Closer to the Desktop

A couple weeks ago, we released Version 1.51 of the Wolfram Cloud. We’ve made quite a few significant functionality improvements even since 1.50—a major milestone from many months of hard work—as we continue to make cloud notebooks as easy and powerful to use as the notebooks on our desktop clients for Wolfram|One and Mathematica. You can read through everything that’s new in 1.51 in the detailed release notes. After working on this version through to its release, I’m excited to show off Wolfram Cloud 1.51—I’ve put together a few of the highlights and favorite new features for you here.

Computation & Analysis

Embracing Uncertainty: Better Model Selection with Bayesian Linear Regression

Readers who follow the Mathematica Stack Exchange (which I highly recommend to any Wolfram Language user) may have seen this post recently, in which I showed a function I wrote to make Bayesian linear regression easy to do. After finishing that function, I have been playing around with it to get a better feel of what it can do, and how it compares against regular fitting algorithms such as those used by Fit. In this blog post, I don’t want to focus too much on the underlying technicalities (check out my previous blog post to learn more about Bayesian neural network regression); rather, I will show you some of the practical applications and interpretations of Bayesian regression, and share some of the surprising results you can get from it.

Education & Academic

Designing the Wolfram U Data Science Course for Learning the Multiparadigm Workflow

A few weeks back, we announced Wolfram U’s latest open online course: Multiparadigm Data Science (MPDS). This course gives a hands-on introduction to basic concepts of data science through a multiparadigm approach—using various types of data, modern analytical techniques, automated machine learning and a range of interfaces for communicating your data science results. Our goal is to increase your understanding of data science while allowing you to take advantage of multiparadigm insights—whether you’re a newcomer working on a simple problem or an expert using well-established methods.

As the content creator and instructor, I’d like to provide some background on myself and my approach to the MPDS course. Beyond doing data science, I’ve found that multiparadigm principles make both teaching and learning more effective. In this post, I’ll give insight to the design of the course—the main goals, what topics are included and how to use the built-in interactivity to get the most out of your experience.

Current Events & History

Spherical Aberration Optics Problem Finally Solved Using the Wolfram Language

Solving a 2,000-Year-Old Mystery

It’s not every day that a 2,000-year-old optics problem is solved. However, Rafael G. González-Acuña, a doctoral student at Tecnológico de Monterrey, set his sights on solving such a problem—spherical aberration in lenses. How can light rays focus on a single point, taking into account differing refraction? It was a problem that, according to Christiaan Huygens back in 1690, even Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz couldn’t sort out, and was formulated two millennia ago in Greek mathematician Diocles’s work, On Burning Mirrors.

But González-Acuña and his colleagues realized that today, they had the use of the Wolfram Language and its computational tools to solve this age-old problem. The result? A breakthrough publication that outlines an analytical solution to why and how lensed images are sharper in the center than at the edges, with 99.999999999% accuracy simulating 500 light beams.

As it happens, González-Acuña was recently at the Wolfram Summer School, and we had the opportunity to ask him a little bit about his work.

Computation & Analysis

Taking the Cerne Abbas Walk: From Conceptual Art to Computational Art

Cerne Abbas Walk is an artwork by Richard Long, in the collection of the Tate Modern in London and on display at the time of this writing. Several of Long’s works involve geographic representations of his walks, some abstract and some concrete. Cerne Abbas Walk is described by the artist as “a six-day walk over all roads, lanes and double tracks inside a six-mile-wide circle centred on the Giant of Cerne Abbas.” The Tate catalog notes that “the map shows his route, retracing and re-crossing many roads to stay within a predetermined circle.”

The Giant in question is a 180-foot-high chalk figure carved into a hill near the village of Cerne Abbas in South West England. Some archaeologists believe it to be of Iron Age pedigree, some think it to date from the Roman or subsequent Saxon periods and yet others find the bulk of evidence to indicate a 17th-century origin as a political satire. (I find the last theory to be both the most amusing and the most convincing.)

I found the geographic premise of Cerne Abbas Walk intriguing, so I decided to replicate it computationally.

Computation & Analysis

The Ultimate Team Generator with the Wolfram Language

Every summer, I play in a recreational Ultimate Frisbee league—just “Ultimate” to those who play. It’s a fun, relaxed, coed league where I tend to win more friends than games.

The league is organized by volunteers, and one year, my friend and teammate Nate was volunteered to coordinate it. A couple weeks before the start of the season, Nate came to me with some desperation in his voice over making the teams. The league allows each player to request to play with up to eight other players—disparagingly referred to as their “baggage.” And Nate discovered that with over 100 players in a league, each one requesting a different combination of teammates, creating teams that would please everyone seemed to become more complicated by the minute.

Luckily for him, the Wolfram Language has a suite of graph and network tools for things like social media. I recognized that this seemingly overwhelming problem was actually a fairly simple graph problem. I asked Nate for the data, spent an evening working in a notebook and sent him the teams that night.