Wolfram Computation Meets Knowledge

Date Archive: 2020 February

Computation & Analysis

Wolfram Function Repository Highlights: From Country Borders to Bird Speech Bubbles

In June 2019, Stephen Wolfram announced the Wolfram Function Repository, a curated repository of functions that can be employed immediately in the Wolfram Language. Since then, the Repository has grown to include more than 1,000 functions in over 20 categories.

Functions included in the Repository range from those that are more general and utilitarian in nature to others with very specific applications. As with all Wolfram Language functions, Repository documentation pages contain examples showing how to use the functions. We’re featuring a few of the functions submitted to the Repository so far that showcase the variety of functions our users have built.

Education & Academic

15 Ways Wolfram|Alpha Can Help with Your Classes

We all know Wolfram|Alpha is great for solving calculations and math problems, but not everyone knows about the full breadth of useful data it provides. I entered college as a biology major and was quickly overwhelmed with the amount of information I had to memorize. Class lectures moved at a fast pace, and often my notes had gaps in them where I hadn’t finished writing down what the professor was saying before she moved on. I was up late at night making flashcards for tests and searching desperately through Yahoo! Answers, trying to find information like what exactly the alimentary system does (hint: it “functions in food ingestion and digestion; absorption of water and nutrients; secretion of water, acids, enzymes, buffers and salts; waste excretion; and energy storage”—thanks, Wolfram|Alpha!).

Thinking back on those late-night study sessions, I would have saved a lot of time if I had properly used Wolfram|Alpha as a study tool. Because I was a biology major, many of the areas in which I most frequently sought information were related to scientific fields such as chemistry, but Wolfram|Alpha can be a valuable resource in so many more areas. Here are 15 applications of Wolfram|Alpha in topics beyond mathematics. I hope you will find these to be useful both inside and outside the classroom!

Education & Academic

Hitting All the Marks: Exploring New Bounds for Sparse Rulers and a Wolfram Language Proof

The sparse ruler problem has been famously worked on by Paul Erdős, Marcel J. E. Golay, John Leech, Alfréd Rényi, László Rédei and Solomon W. Golomb, among many others. The problem is this: what is the smallest subset of so that the unsigned pairwise differences of give all values from 1 to ? One way to look at this is to imagine a blank yardstick. At what positions on the yardstick would you add 10 marks, so that you can measure any number of inches up to 36?

Another simple example is of size 3, which has differences , and . The sets of size 2 have only one difference. The minimal subset is not unique; the differences of also give .

Part of what makes the sparse ruler problem so compelling is its embodiment in an object inside every schoolchild's desk—and its enduring appeal lies in its deceptive simplicity. Read on to see precisely just how complicated rulers, marks and recipes can be.

Current Events & History

Democratic Presidential Debate Analysis Using the Wolfram Language

When 20 presidential candidates duke it out on the debate stage, who wins? Americans have been watching a crowded and contentious primary season for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president. After the debates, everyone’s talking about who got the most talk time or attention, which exchanges were most exciting or some other measure of who “won” the night—and who might ultimately clinch a victory at the caucuses. So I decided I’d do a little exploration of the debates using the entity framework, text analytics and graph capabilities of the Wolfram Language and see if I could come up with my own measure of a “win” for a debate, based on which candidate was most central to the conversation.