December 28, 2018 — Stephen Wolfram

Wolfram’s Spikey logo—a flattened rhombic hexecontahedron

Spikeys Everywhere

We call it “Spikey”, and in my life today, it’s everywhere:

Stephen Wolfram surrounded by Spikeys

It comes from a 3D object—a polyhedron that’s called a rhombic hexecontahedron:

3D rhombic hexecontahedron

But what is its story, and how did we come to adopt it as our symbol?

Read More »


November 29, 2018 — Parik Kapadia, Intern, Algorithms R&D

How does it feel to be an intern at Wolfram?

Most undergraduate college students chase opportunities for internships in New York, Miami, Seattle and particularly San Francisco at very young but large high-tech companies like Uber, Pinterest, Quora, Expedia and similar internet companies. These companies offer the best salaries, perks, bosses, coworkers, catered lunches and other luxurious amenities available in such large cities. You would seldom hear about any of these people pursuing opportunities in small, lesser-known towns like Ames, Iowa, or Laramie, Wyoming—and Champaign, Illinois, where Wolfram Research is based, is one of those smaller towns.

Many students want to go into computer science, as it’s such a rapidly developing field. They especially want to work in those companies on the West Coast. If you’re in a different field, like natural science, you might think there’s nothing beyond on-campus research for work experience. At Wolfram Research, though, there is.

Working at Wolfram

Read More »


November 16, 2018 — Michael Trott, Chief Scientist

This morning, representatives of more than 100 countries agreed on a new definition of the base units for all weights and measures. Here’s a picture of the event that I took this morning at the Palais des Congrès in Versailles (down the street from the Château):

The new SI

An important vote for the future weights and measures used in science, technology, commerce and even daily life happened here today. This morning’s agreement is the culmination of at least 230 years of wishing and labor by some of the world’s most famous scientists. The preface to the story entails Galileo and Kepler. Chapter one involves Laplace, Legendre and many other late-18th-century French scientists. Chapter two includes Arago and Gauss. Some of the main figures of chapter three (which I would call “The Rise of the Constants”) are Maxwell and Planck. And the final chapter (“Reign of the Constants”) begins today and builds on the work of contemporary Nobel laureates like Klaus von Klitzing, Bill Phillips and Brian Josephson.

I had the good fortune to witness today’s historic event in person.

Michael Trott at the General Conference on Weights and Measures

Read More »


September 18, 2018 — Devendra Kapadia, Kernel Developer, Algorithms R&D

Today I am proud to announce a free interactive course, Introduction to Calculus, hosted on Wolfram’s learning hub, Wolfram U! The course is designed to give a comprehensive introduction to fundamental concepts in calculus such as limits, derivatives and integrals. It includes 38 video lessons along with interactive notebooks that offer examples in the Wolfram Cloud—all for free. This is the second of Wolfram U’s fully interactive free online courses, powered by our cloud and notebook technology.

This introduction to the profound ideas that underlie calculus will help students and learners of all ages anywhere in the world to master the subject. While the course requires no prior knowledge of the Wolfram Language, the concepts illustrated by the language are geared toward easy reader comprehension due to its human-readable nature. Studying calculus through this course is a good way for high-school students to prepare for AP Calculus AB.

Read More »


August 2, 2018
Aaron Enright, Data Scientist, Wolfram|Alpha Socioeconomic Content
Eric Weisstein, Senior Researcher, Wolfram|Alpha Scientific Content

The Mathematics Genealogy Project (MGP) is a project dedicated to the compilation of information about all mathematicians of the world, storing this information in a database and exposing it via a web-based search interface. The MGP database contains more than 230,000 mathematicians as of July 2018, and has continued to grow roughly linearly in size since its inception in 1997.

In order to make this data more accessible and easily computable, we created an internal version of the MGP data using the Wolfram Language’s entity framework. Using this dataset within the Wolfram Language allows one to easily make computations and visualizations that provide interesting and sometimes unexpected insights into mathematicians and their works. Note that for the time being, these entities are defined only in our private dataset and so are not (yet) available for general use.

Read More »


July 26, 2018 — Itai Seggev, Senior Kernel Developer, Algorithms R&D

One of the many beautiful aspects of mathematics is that often, things that look radically different are in fact the same—or at least share a common core. On their faces, algorithm analysis, function approximation and number theory seem radically different. After all, the first is about computer programs, the second is about smooth functions and the third is about whole numbers. However, they share a common toolset: asymptotic relations and the important concept of asymptotic scale.

By comparing the “important parts” of two functions—a common trick in mathematics—asymptotic analysis classifies functions based on the relative size of their absolute values near a particular point. Depending on the application, this comparison provides quantitative answers to questions such as “Which of these algorithms is fastest?” or “Is function a good approximation to function g?”. Version 11.3 of the Wolfram Language introduces six of these relations, summarized in the following table.

Read More »


July 19, 2018 — Devendra Kapadia, Kernel Developer, Algorithms R&D

Asymptotic expansions have played a key role in the development of fields such as aerodynamics, quantum physics and mathematical analysis, as they allow us to bridge the gap between intricate theories and practical calculations. Indeed, the leading term in such an expansion often gives more insight into the solution of a problem than a long and complicated exact solution. Version 11.3 of the Wolfram Language introduces two new functions, AsymptoticDSolveValue and AsymptoticIntegrate, which compute asymptotic expansions for differential equations and integrals, respectively. Here, I would like to give you an introduction to asymptotic expansions using these new functions.

Read More »


May 10, 2018 — Michael Trott, Chief Scientist

The Shape of the Differences of the Complex Zeros of Three-Term Exponential Polynomials

In my last blog, I looked at the distribution of the distances of the real zeros of functions of the form with incommensurate , . And after analyzing the real case, I now want to have a look at the differences of the zeros of three-term exponential polynomials of the form for real , , . (While we could rescale to set and for the zero set , keeping and will make the resulting formulas look more symmetric.) Looking at the zeros in the complex plane, one does not see any obvious pattern. But by forming differences of pairs of zeros, regularities and patterns emerge, which often give some deeper insight into a problem. We do not make any special assumptions about the incommensurability of , , .

The differences of the zeros of this type of function are all located on oval-shaped curves. We will find a closed form for these ovals. Using experimental mathematics techniques, we will show that ovals are described by the solutions of the following equation:


… where:

Read More »


April 24, 2018 — Michael Trott, Chief Scientist

Identifying Peaks in Distributions of Zeros and Extrema of Almost-Periodic Functions: Inspired by Answering a MathOverflow Question

One of the Holy Grails of mathematics is the Riemann zeta function, especially its zeros. One representation of is the infinite sum . In the last few years, the interest in partial sums of such infinite sums and their zeros has grown. A single cosine or sine function is periodic, and the distribution of its zeros is straightforward to describe. A sum of two cosine functions can be written as a product of two cosines, . Similarly, a sum of two sine functions can be written as a product of . This reduces the zero-finding of a sum of two cosines or sines to the case of a single one. A sum of three cosine or sine functions, , is already much more interesting.

Fifteen years ago, in the notes to chapter 4 of Stephen Wolfram’s A New Kind of Science, a log plot of the distribution of the zero distances…

A New Kind of Science, notes from Chapter 4

… of the zero distribution of —showing characteristic peaks—was shown.

Read More »


February 2, 2018 — Ed Pegg Jr, Editor, Wolfram Demonstrations Project

11 trees in threes

Some trees are planted in an orchard. What is the maximum possible number of distinct lines of three trees? In his 1821 book Rational Amusement for Winter Evenings, J. Jackson put it this way:

Fain would I plant a grove in rows
But how must I its form compose
            With three trees in each row;
To have as many rows as trees;
Now tell me, artists, if you please:
            ’Tis all I want to know.

Those familiar with tic-tac-toe, three-in-a-row might wonder how difficult this problem could be, but it’s actually been looked at by some of the most prominent mathematicians of the past and present. This essay presents many new solutions that haven’t been seen before, shows a general method for finding more solutions and points out where current best solutions are improvable.

Read More »