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The Wolfram|Alpha Team

“Set the Curve” Contest Results: Who’s the Nerdiest of Them All?

September 26, 2013 —
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To celebrate the start of the school year last month, Wolfram|Alpha launched the Set the Curve Contest, where we gave fans a chance to prove they were the nerdiest Wolfram|Alpha user by sharing their word clouds from Facebook Personal Analytics. Our winner would be immortalized in Wolfram|Alpha with the chance to choose a person or figure to be portrayed as our next mathematical curve.

Though we received many excellent entries, we could only pick one grand prize. But we couldn’t resist acknowledging two runners-up as well. Check out their word clouds below—and remember, the most common words will be in large type near the center, with the smaller words near the top and bottom being a bit less frequent.

Our overall winner was Richard Johnstone:

Set the Curve Contest winner Richard Johnstone's word cloud

For most of us, the most common word we use on Facebook might be something like “friends” or “weekend”—probably not “algorithmic.” “Rendering,” “renderings,” and “algorithmically” take prime positions in the cloud, and Richard clearly has an interest in “software,” websites like “deviantART,” and “copyright” issues such as the “Berne” Convention.

We were particularly impressed with the erudite words sneaking in around the edges—“aforementioned,” “communique,” and “disseminate“—leading to a word cloud that succeeds in both the quality and quantity of its nerdiness.

It may not surprise you, after all of this, to learn that Richard is a hobbyist digital artist who uses algorithms to generate his images. To meet the man behind the cloud, just query Wolfram|Alpha with “Richard Johnstone curve”:

Richard Johnstone curve

Our first runner-up, Ted Celis, is clearly a math aficionado:

First runner-up Ted Celis word cloud

There’s hardly a single line in Ted’s entire cloud without some sort of mathematics-related terminology. It’s nerdy in the most awesome way to have “dt/dx” and the more general “derivative” among your most common words, but we can’t overlook the prevalence throughout the cloud of “functions” such as “root” and units from “inches” to “meters,” and beyond.

As one of our runners-up, Ted will receive a bunch of cool Wolfram prizes, including a year of Wolfram|Alpha Pro. We’re hoping he’ll find the Step-by-step Solutions feature useful for everything from calculating the “surface” “area” of a “sphere” to solving multivariable “equations” in “calculus”. (And we haven’t even used half of the math words in his cloud yet! You get the picture, though.)

As we read through everyone’s entries, we were impressed with the diversity of your nerdiness, be it area of interest, geographical location, or so on. Our final runner-up is India’s Hundung Sanasam:

Final runner-up Hundung Sanasam word cloud

Hundung’s word cloud also demonstrates his interest in math—particularly, it seems group theory and set theory, as the usage of “group,” “subgroup,” (and “subgroups”), and related terms like “empty” and “bounded” show. Hundung’s interests also appear to extend to Hindu mythology; Arjuna, a key figure in the Bhagavad Gita known for his skill in archery, plays a key role himself in this word cloud, as does his wife Chitrangada.

If you’d like to read through some of our other entries, check out the comments on our announcement blog post or search for #SetTheCurve on Twitter and Tumblr. Thanks to everyone who participated, and best of luck as you set the curve in class (and in life) this fall!