Approximately six and a half years ago our launch team started the Wolfram|Alpha blog just prior to the release of Wolfram|Alpha, and by the end of 2009 we had already published 133 posts.

Over the years, this blog has given us the opportunity to introduce you to many Wolfram|Alpha features; bring you news and “How tos” in areas like astronomy, culture and media, physics, and weather; and announce new searchable data paclets released by our curation and development teams.

However, last year the introduction of the Wolfram Language brought greater Wolfram|Alpha query integration to Wolfram’s growing list of products. So it makes sense to turn our focus toward how those natural language queries can be used by Wolfram’s expanding technology stack.

Going forward, as the official voice of Wolfram, the Wolfram Blog will be the go-to place for timely news and information, introductions to new features, Q&As with users, and much more.

You will still have the opportunity to browse archived posts here, but for new content, be sure to subscribe to the Wolfram Blog.

]]>At the end of this month, however, Facebook will be deprecating the API we relied on to extract much of this information.

You’ll still be able to generate an analysis of most of your own activity on Facebook, but you won’t have access to any information about your friends (except their names) unless they’ve also authorized our Facebook app. So in most cases, we won’t have enough data to generate a meaningful friend network graph, or to compute statistics about location, age, marital status, or other personal characteristics of your group of Facebook friends.

We completely support Facebook’s decision to increase the default security of users’ data, even though it will dramatically shorten reports for many people. So if you haven’t run your report in a while, or if you haven’t yet discovered what your report can tell you about yourself, we strongly suggest you ask Wolfram|Alpha to compute your Facebook personal analytics soon, while its full functionality is still available. And by all means, encourage friends and family who haven’t viewed their own Facebook analytics to do so—it’ll make everyone’s reports richer and more detailed.

*To comment, please visit the copy of this post at the Wolfram Blog »*

This coming Saturday is “Pi Day of the Century”. The date 3/14/15 in month/day/year format is like the first digits of π=3.1415… And at 9:26:53.589… it’s a “super pi moment”.

Between *Mathematica* and Wolfram|Alpha, I’m pretty sure our company has delivered more π to the world than any other organization in history. So of course we have to do something special for Pi Day of the Century.

One of my main roles as CEO is to come up with ideas—and I’ve spent decades building an organization that’s good at turning those ideas into reality. Well, a number of weeks ago I was in a meeting about upcoming corporate events, and someone noted that Pi Day (3/14) would happen during the big annual SXSW (South by Southwest) event in Austin, Texas. So I said (or at least I thought I said), “We should have a big pi to celebrate Pi Day.”

I didn’t give it another thought, but a couple of weeks later we had another meeting about upcoming events. One agenda item was Pi Day. And the person who runs our Events group started talking about the difficulty of finding a bakery in Austin to make something suitably big. “What are you talking about?” I asked. And then I realized: “You’ve got the wrong kind of pi!”

I guess in our world pi confusions are strangely common. Siri’s voice-to-text system sends Wolfram|Alpha lots of “pie” every day that we have to specially interpret as “pi”. And then there’s the Raspberry Pi, that has the Wolfram Language included. And for me there’s the additional confusion that my personal fileserver happens to have been named “pi” for many years.

After the pi(e) mistake in our meeting we came up with all kinds of wild ideas to celebrate Pi Day. We’d already rented a small park in the area of SXSW, and we wanted to make the most interesting “pi countdown” we could. We resolved to get a large number of edible pie “pixels”, and use them to create a π shape inside a pie shape. Of course, there’ll be the obligatory pi selfie station, with a “Stonehenge” pi. And a pi(e)-decorated Wolfie mascot for additional selfies. And of course we’ll be doing things with Raspberry Pis too.

I’m sure we’ll have plenty of good “pi fun” at SXSW. But we also want to provide pi fun for other people around the world. We were wondering, “What can one do with pi?” Well, in some sense, you can do anything with pi. Because, apart from being the digits of pi, its infinite digit sequence is—so far as we can tell—completely random. So for example any run of digits will eventually appear in it.

How about giving people a personal connection to that piece of math? Pi Day is about a date that appears as the first digits of pi. But any date appears somewhere in pi. So, we thought: Why not give people a way to find out where their birthday (or other significant date) appears in pi, and use that to make personalized pi T-shirts and posters?

In the Wolfram Language, it’s easy to find out where your birthday appears in π. It’s pretty certain that any mm/dd/yy will appear somewhere in the first 10 million digits. On my desktop computer (a Mac Pro), it takes 6.28 seconds (2π?!) to compute that many digits of π.

Here’s the Wolfram Language code to get the result and turn it into a string (dropping the decimal point at position 2):

Now it’s easy to find any “birthday string”:

So, for example, my birthday string first appears in π starting at digit position 151,653.

What’s a good way to display this? It depends how “pi lucky” you are. For those born on 4/15/92, their birthdate already appears at position 3. (Only about a certain fraction of positions correspond to a possible date string.) People born on November 23, 1960 have the birthday string that’s farthest out, appearing only at position 9,982,546. And in fact most people have birthdays that are pretty “far out” in π (the average is 306,150 positions).

Our long-time art director had the idea of using a spiral that goes in and out to display the beginnings and ends of such long digit sequences. And almost immediately, he’d written the code to do this (one of the great things about the Wolfram Language is that non-engineers can write their own code…).

Next came deploying that code to a website. And thanks to the Wolfram Programming Cloud, this was basically just one line of code! So now you can go to MyPiDay.com…

…and get your own piece of π!

And then you can share the image, or get a poster or T-shirt of it:

With all this discussion about pi, I can’t resist saying just a little about the science of pi. But first, just why is pi so famous? Yes, it’s the ratio of circumference to diameter of a circle. And that means that π appears in zillions of scientific formulas. But it’s not the whole story. (And for example most people have never even heard of the analog of π for an ellipse—a so-called complete elliptic integral of the second kind.)

The bigger story is that π appears in a remarkable range of mathematical settings—including many that don’t seem to have anything to do with circles. Like sums of negative powers, or limits of iterations, or the probability that a randomly chosen fraction will not be in lowest terms.

If one’s just looking at digit sequences, pi’s 3.1415926… doesn’t seem like anything special. But let’s say one just starts constructing formulas at random and then doing traditional mathematical operations on them, like summing series, doing integrals, finding limits, and so on. One will get lots of answers that are 0, or 1/2, or . And there’ll be plenty of cases where there’s no closed form one can find at all. But when one can get a definite result, my experience is that it’s remarkably common to find π in it.

A few other constants show up too, like *e* (2.1718…), or Euler gamma (0.5772…), or Catalan’s constant (0.9159…). But π is distinctly more common.

Perhaps math could have been set up differently. But at least with math as we humans have constructed it, the number that is π is a widespread building block, and it’s natural that we gave it a name, and that it’s famous—now even to the point of having a day to celebrate it.

What about other constants? “Birthday strings” will certainly appear at different places in different constants. And just like when Wolfram|Alpha tries to find closed forms for numbers, there’s typically a tradeoff between digit position and obscurity of the constants used. So, for example, my birthday string appears at position 151,653 in π, 241,683 in *e*, 45,515 in , 40,979 in ζ(3) … and 196 in the 1601th Fibonacci number.

Let’s say you make a plot that goes up whenever a digit of π is 5 or above, and down otherwise:

It looks just like a random walk. And in fact, all statistical and cryptographic tests of randomness that have been tried on the digits (except tests that effectively just ask “are these the digits of pi?”) say that they look random too.

Why does that happen? There are fairly simple procedures that generate digits of pi. But the remarkable thing is that even though these procedures are simple, the output they produce is complicated enough to seem completely random. In the past, there wasn’t really a context for thinking about this kind of behavior. But it’s exactly what I’ve spent many years studying in all kinds of systems—and wrote about in *A New Kind of Science*. And in a sense the fact that one can “find any birthday in pi” is directly connected to concepts like my general Principle of Computational Equivalence.

Of course, just because we’ve never seen any regularity in the digits of pi, it doesn’t mean that no such regularity exists. And in fact it could still be that if we did a big search, we might find somewhere far out in the digits of pi some strange regularity lurking.

What would it mean? There’s a science fiction answer at the end of Carl Sagan’s book version of *Contact*. In the book, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence succeeds in making contact with an interstellar civilization that has created some amazing artifacts—and that then explains that what they in turn find remarkable is that encoded in the distant digits of pi, they’ve found intelligent messages, like an encoded picture of a circle.

At first one might think that finding “intelligence” in the digits of pi is absurd. After all, there’s just a definite simple algorithm that generates these digits. But at least if my suspicions are correct, exactly the same is actually true of our whole universe, so that every detail of its history is in principle computable much like the digits of pi.

Now we know that within our universe we have ourselves as an example of intelligence. SETI is about trying to find other examples. The goal is fairly well defined when the search is for “human-like intelligence”. But—as my Principle of Computational Equivalence suggests—I think that beyond that it’s essentially impossible to make a sharp distinction between what should be considered “intelligent” and what is “merely computational”.

If the century-old mathematical suspicion is correct that the digits of pi are “normal”, it means that every possible sequence eventually occurs among the digits, including all the works of Shakespeare, or any other artifact of any possible civilization. But could there be some other structure—perhaps even superimposed on normality—that for example shows evidence of the generation of intelligence-like complexity?

While it may be conceptually simple, it’s certainly more bizarre to contemplate the possibility of a human-like intelligent civilization lurking in the digits of pi, than in the physical universe as explored by SETI. But if one generalizes what one counts as intelligence, the situation is a lot less clear.

Of course, if we see a complex signal from a pulsar magnetosphere we say it’s “just physics”, not the result of the evolution of a “magnetohydrodynamic civilization”. And similarly if we see some complex structure in the digits of pi, we’re likely to say it’s “just mathematics”, not the result of some “number theoretic civilization”.

One can generalize from the digit sequence of pi to representations of any mathematical constant that is easy to specify with traditional mathematical operations. Sometimes there are simple regularities in those representations. But often there is apparent randomness. And the project of searching for structure is quite analogous to SETI in the physical universe. (One difference, however, is that π as a number to study is selected as a result of the structure of our physical universe, our brains, and our mathematical development. The universe presumably has no such selection, save implicitly from the fact the we exist in it.)

I’ve done a certain amount of searching for regularities in representations of numbers like π. I’ve never found anything significant. But there’s nothing to say that any regularities have to be at all easy to find. And there’s certainly a possibility that it could take a SETI-like effort to reveal them.

But for now, let’s celebrate the Pi Day of our century, and have fun doing things like finding birthday strings in the digits of pi. Of course, someone like me can’t help but wonder what success there will have been by the next Pi Day of the Century, in 2115, in either SETI or “SETI among the digits”…

Pictures from the Pi Day event:

]]>

For those of you who are interested, Wolfram|Alpha possesses a wealth of sports stats so that you can get all the cold, hard facts about the Patriots and the Seahawks.

And if you can’t wait for Sunday to get your next football fix, or find yourself suffering withdrawal afterward, VICTIV is doing very cool things with the Wolfram Language to run a fantasy sports league. Earl Mitchell delves into the step-by-step process for new users on his blog, The Rotoquant.

But some of you are probably just plain old tired of all this “Deflatriots” business and of having your television occupied by football games, news, talking heads, and commercials from September through February, because after a while, the teams start to blur together. Fortunately, with the help of the Wolfram Language, you can pick your team out of the crowd using this `Graph` of NFL logos we created by pulling the images from our Wolfram Knowledgebase and using `Nearest` to organize them by graphical similarity.

If you’re one of those who are weary of all the football hoopla, then let us soothe your soul with a time-honored and longstanding tradition of cuteness: Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl XI.

With celebrities such as Katty Furry performing in the halftime show, it promises to be the most adorable sports game you’ll watch all year. The competition will be fierce, with 57 shelter-donated puppies—all up for adoption!—fighting for the honor to be the Bissel MVP (Most Valuable Puppy).

Past MVPs have included Max and Abigail, both Jack Russell Terriers, and the last MVP, Loren, was a Brittany, a breed not present in 2015’s lineup.

It’s not unlikely that one of the eight Labrador Retrievers will take home the prize for the first time ever. Again using the Wolfram Language, here’s the breakdown of Puppy Bowl breeds:

But who knows, one of those Beagles could come out of the end zone and snatch the victorious touchdown from right under their wet noses. Are you ready for some puppy ball?

Now you may think it was trivial to add this functionality given that indefinite integrals already have steps, but there are many tricky cases to consider: before we even begin to integrate, the continuity of the function is examined. If there are discontinuities in the integration domain, the domain is split and the integral is evaluated separately over each domain.

We must determine if the integral is proper or improper.

Absolute values need to be handled carefully.

Symmetries can be exploited.

Simplification of radicals and logarithms must be done very carefully.

Finally, the fundamental theorem of calculus requires that the antiderivative is continuous over the integration domain (see this blog post for more information). Therefore, we need to be careful when finding the indefinite integral, and always ensure the result will be continuous. One way to do this is to detect when we will have a discontinuous antiderivative and split the integration domain up.

Integration is an extremely nontrivial problem, so we hope these Step-by-step solutions will help you learn how they can be done. Be sure to check out Step-by-step solutions for other topics too.

]]>Summer has drawn to a close, and so too have our annual internships. Each year Wolfram welcomes a new group of interns to work on an exciting array of projects ranging all the way from Bell polynomials to food science. It was a season for learning, growth, and making strides across disciplinary and academic divides. The Wolfram interns are an invaluable part of our team, and they couldn’t wait to tell us all about their time here. Here are just a few examples of the work that was done.

Paco Jain

Wolfram|Alpha Scientific Content,

Wolfram|Alpha

Wolfram|Alpha Scientific Content,

Wolfram|Alpha

“This summer, I worked on adding scientific content to the physical systems domain in Wolfram|Alpha. While there is a lot to learn, everyone I worked with seemed enthusiastic to help me get up to speed, and I was able to form several valuable mentoring relationships. I also felt that I was given the resources and responsibility I needed to allow me to make meaningful contributions to the Wolfram|Alpha product. The experience has me already thinking about pursuing a full-time position at Wolfram!”

Daniel McDonald

Wolfram|Alpha Scientific Content,

Bell Polynomials and Recursive Algorithms

Wolfram|Alpha Scientific Content,

Bell Polynomials and Recursive Algorithms

“This summer at Wolfram|Alpha I worked as the Special Functions Intern. My primary project was reading mathematical literature in order to extract and verify formulas that could be useful for The Wolfram Functions Site as well as for possible *Mathematica* implementation. The most interesting part of my work involved creating a compendium of information about *Mathematica*‘s `BellY` function that computes various types of Bell polynomials, which are used in Faà di Bruno’s formula for computing arbitrary derivatives of the composition *f*(*g*) (as well as in generalizations of this formula for computing arbitrary derivatives of compositions of arbitrary depth). I devised an original functional recurrence that suggested a quick recursive algorithm for computing generalized Bell polynomials; as this algorithm ran much faster than *Mathematica*‘s at the time, it was implemented into *Mathematica* 10.0.1. This recurrence and thus the algorithm (with different base cases) can be applied in a more general environment, and I am currently drafting a paper to submit to an algorithms journal.”

Mark Peterson

Scientific Information Group,

Wolfram Demonstrations Project

Scientific Information Group,

Wolfram Demonstrations Project

“During my internship in the Scientific Information Group at Wolfram Research, my work has primarily been centered on the Wolfram Demonstrations Project. Essentially, Demonstrations are self-contained programs written in the Wolfram Language that are designed to appeal to the user in a highly intuitive and interactive way. Whether working on the Project directly or on alternate applications for its material, my time has been spent developing this sort of content.”

Jake Wood

*Mathematica* Algorithms R&D,

*Mathematica* `GeoGraphics`

“Joining the Wolfram team earlier this summer was an exciting professional milestone for me. I am a big fan of not only the software that has come from Wolfram, but also the mission and ambition to proliferate and nurture big ideas. My patient mentor explained that I was to figure out how to make the generated maps in `GeoGraphics` (new in *Mathematica* 10) move around and update from mouse clicking and dragging. Additionally, the maps needed to be zoomable, similar to maps online used for navigation. Right now my prototypes deal with the maps themselves instead of the verbose layers of graphics data that *Mathematica* is capable of imbuing. In the future, though, who knows. Getting the panning and zooming to work proved a difficult task; however, the brunt of the summer was spent on improving the performance speed. No one wants to use an interactive map that is insufferably unresponsive. The utility of this application is pretty clear, as it is similar to programs that people already use daily.”

Jessica Zhang

User Experience,

Wolfram*Tones*

User Experience,

Wolfram

“People would think as a User Experience Designer I would only be designing detailed features within a product or workflow. However, at Wolfram, I not only got to do those things, I also got to take part in the bigger decision-making design processes, even as an intern. I was given the opportunity to learn a variety of skills that are important and also at the cutting edge of the field. Technical skills include wireframing, wireflowing, diagramming, and interface design. Oh, and also using the espresso machine!”

Andrew Blanchard

Wolfram|Alpha Scientific Content,

Named Physical Effects

Wolfram|Alpha Scientific Content,

Named Physical Effects

“For my internship with Wolfram Alpha, I assembled a list of named physical effects. A typical effect provides a link between measurable physical quantities, which are already incorporated into Wolfram|Alpha. Thus, making information about known physical effects computable enables the exploration of relationships between measurable quantities. In addition, the searchable data provides a window into the relationship between the discovery of new effects and advances in the field of physics. By making scientific information searchable, Wolfram|Alpha is providing a wonderful service for researchers, students, and anyone curious about exploring science.”

Surojit Ganguli

Wolfram|Alpha Socioeconomic Content,

Computational Capabilities

“I was part of the team that was involved in increasing the computational capabilities of Wolfram|Alpha in the domain of vehicle dynamics. As a Computational Science and Engineering Minor at UIUC, the opportunity to explore the various ways in which computations are being performed at Wolfram was in itself a rewarding experience. As an additional bonus, I definitely improved in the area of functional programming by using *Mathematica*.”

Ying Qin

Wolfram|Alpha Scientific Content,

Food Data

Wolfram|Alpha Scientific Content,

Food Data

“I’ve been working on expanding food-related information in the Wolfram Knowledgebase. Among other things, this included the characterization and classification of food; I did research involving USDA data and other data sources. I was also working on expanding the food glossary, which gives a more detailed description of the available content. Furthermore, using my knowledge as a Food Science student, I was able to do things like classify fatty acids into groups. My advice to prospective interns is that you shouldn’t hesitate to apply even though your major is not computer science or engineering. As a Food Science major, I was happy to get involved here, and felt like it was a truly valuable experience.”

It’s been an amazing summer all around, and we couldn’t be happier with the contributions our interns have made. While we are sad to see some of them go, we are excited by the new talent that has been added to our team and can’t wait to see what next year will bring!

]]>Our live-tweets will feature facts, queries, and commentary about the show. We’ll take a look at things like the math behind siphoning electricity and insightful statistics based on character names. We’re happy to see another installment in the good fight for the nerd revolution and can’t wait to watch as a bunch of brainiacs save the world. Join us for a night of science and suspense and send us your own Wolfram|Alpha Scorpion queries to @wolfram_alpha!

]]>Compose a tweet-length Wolfram Language program, and tweet it to @WolframTaP. Our Twitter bot will run your program in the Wolfram Cloud and tweet back the result.

One can do a lot with Wolfram Language programs that fit in a tweet. Like here’s a 78-character program that generates a color cube made of spheres:

It’s easy to make interesting patterns:

Here’s a 44-character program that seems to express itself like an executable poem:

Going even shorter, here’s a little “fractal hack”, in just 36 characters:

Putting in some math makes it easy to get all sorts of elaborate structures and patterns:

You don’t have to make pictures. Here, for instance, are the first 1000 digits of π, sized according to their magnitudes (notice that run of 9s!):

The Wolfram Language not only knows how to compute π, as well as a zillion other algorithms; it also has a huge amount of built-in knowledge about the real world. So right in the language, you can talk about movies or countries or chemicals or whatever. And here’s a 78-character program that makes a collage of the flags of Europe, sized according to country population:

We can make this even shorter if we use some free-form natural language in the program. In a typical Wolfram notebook interface, you do this using , but in Tweet-a-Program, you can do it just using =[…]:

The Wolfram Language knows a lot about geography. Here’s a program that makes a “powers of 10” sequence of disks, centered on the Eiffel Tower:

There are many, many kinds of real-world knowledge built into the Wolfram Language, including some pretty obscure ones. Here’s a map of all the shipwrecks it knows in the Atlantic:

The Wolfram Language deals with images too. Here’s a program that gets images of the planets, then randomly scrambles their colors to give them a more exotic look:

Here’s an image of me, repeatedly edge-detected:

Or, for something more “pop culture” (and ready for image analysis etc.), here’s an array of random movie posters:

The Wolfram Language does really well with words and text too. Like here’s a program that generates an “infographic” showing the relative frequencies of first letters for words in English and in Spanish:

And here—just fitting in a tweet—is a program that computes a smoothed estimate of the frequencies of “Alice” and “Queen” going through the text of *Alice in Wonderland*:

Networks are good fodder for Tweet-a-Program too. Like here’s a program that generates a sequence of networks:

And here—just below the tweet length limit—is a program that generates a random cloud of polyhedra:

What’s the shortest “interesting program” in the Wolfram Language?

In some languages, it might be a “quine”—a program that outputs its own code. But in the Wolfram Language, quines are completely trivial. Since everything is symbolic, all it takes to make a quine is a single character:

Using the built-in knowledge in the Wolfram Language, you can make some very short programs with interesting output. Like here’s a 15-character program that generates an image from built-in data about knots:

Some short programs are very easy to understand:

It’s fun to make short “mystery” programs. What’s this one doing?

Or this one?

Or, much more challengingly, this one:

I’ve actually spent many years of my life studying short programs and what they do—and building up a whole science of the computational universe, described in my big book *A New Kind of Science*. It all started more than three decades ago—with a computer experiment that I can now do with just a single tweet:

My all-time favorite discovery is tweetable too:

If you go out searching in the computational universe, it’s easy to find all sorts of amazing things:

An ultimate question is whether somewhere out there in the computational universe there is a program that represents our whole physical universe. And is that program short enough to be tweetable in the Wolfram Language?

But regardless of this, we already know that the Wolfram Language lets us write amazing tweetable programs about an incredible diversity of things. It’s taken more than a quarter of a century to build the huge tower of knowledge and automation that’s now in the Wolfram Language. But this richness is what makes it possible to express so much in the space of a tweet.

In the past, only ordinary human languages were rich enough to be meaningfully used for tweeting. But what’s exciting now is that it seems like the Wolfram Language has passed a kind of threshold of general expressiveness that lets it, too, be meaningfully tweetable. For like ordinary human languages, it can talk about all sorts of things, and represent all sorts of ideas. But there’s also something else about it: unlike ordinary human languages, everything in it always has a precisely defined meaning—and what you write is not just readable, but also runnable.

Tweets in an ordinary human language are (presumably) intended to have some effect on the mind of whoever reads them. But the effect may be different on different minds, and it’s usually hard to know exactly what it is. But tweets in the Wolfram Language have a well-defined effect—which you see when they’re run.

It’s interesting to compare the Wolfram Language to ordinary human languages. An ordinary language, like English, has a few tens of thousands of reasonably common “built-in” words, excluding proper names etc. The Wolfram Language has about 5000 built-in named objects, excluding constructs like entities specified by proper names.

And one thing that’s important about the Wolfram Language—that it shares with ordinary human languages—is that it’s not only writable by humans, but also readable by them. There’s vocabulary to acquire, and there are a few principles to learn—but it doesn’t take long before, as a human, one can start to understand typical Wolfram Language programs.

Sometimes it’s fairly easy to give at least a rough translation (or “explanation”) of a Wolfram Language program in ordinary human language. But it’s very common for a Wolfram Language program to express something that’s quite difficult to communicate—at least at all succinctly—in ordinary human language. And inevitably this means that there are things that are easy to think about in the Wolfram Language, but difficult to think about in ordinary human language.

Just like with an ordinary language, there are language arts for the Wolfram Language. There’s reading and comprehension. And there’s writing and composition. Always with lots of ways to express something, but now with a precise notion of correctness, as well as all sorts of measures like speed of execution.

And like with ordinary human language, there’s also the matter of elegance. One can look at both meaning and presentation. And one can think of distilling the essence of things to create a kind of “code poetry”.

When I first came up with Tweet-a-Program it seemed mostly like a neat hack. But what I’ve realized is that it’s actually a window into a new kind of expression—and a form of communication that humans and computers can share.

Of course, it’s also intended to be fun. And certainly for me there’s great satisfaction in creating a tiny, elegant gem of a program that produces something amazing.

And now I’m excited to see what everyone will do with it. What kinds of things will be created? What popular “code postcards” will there be? Who will be inspired to code? What puzzles will be posed and solved? What competitions will be defined and won? And what great code artists and code poets will emerge?

Now that we have tweetable programs, let’s go find what’s possible…

*To develop and test programs for Tweet-a-Program, you can log in free to the Wolfram Programming Cloud, or use any other Wolfram Language system, on the desktop or in the cloud. Check out some details here.*

*To comment, please visit the copy of this post at the Wolfram Blog »*

In the past, using *Mathematica* has always involved first installing software on your computer. But as of today that’s no longer true. Instead, all you have to do is point a web browser at *Mathematica* Online, then log in, and immediately you can start to use *Mathematica*—with zero configuration.

Here’s what it looks like:

It’s a notebook interface, just like on the desktop. You interactively build up a computable document, mixing text, code, graphics, and so on—with inputs you can immediately run, hierarchies of cells, and even things like Manipulate. It’s taken a lot of effort, but we’ve been able to implement almost all the major features of the standard *Mathematica* notebook interface purely in a web browser—extending CDF (Computable Document Format) to the cloud.

There are some tradeoffs of course. For example, Manipulate can’t be as zippy in the cloud as it is on the desktop, because it has to run across the network. But because its Cloud CDF interface is running directly in the web browser, it can immediately be embedded in any web page, without any plugin, like right here:

Another huge feature of *Mathematica* Online is that because your files are stored in the cloud, you can immediately access them from anywhere. You can also easily collaborate: all you have to do is set permissions on the files so your collaborators can access them. Or, for example, in a class, a professor can create notebooks in the cloud that are set so each student gets their own active copy to work with—that they can then email or share back to the professor.

And since *Mathematica* Online runs purely through a web browser, it immediately works on mobile devices too. Even better, there’s soon going to be a Wolfram Cloud app that provides a native interface to *Mathematica* Online, both on tablets like the iPad, and on phones:

There are lots of great things about *Mathematica* Online. There are also lots of great things about traditional desktop *Mathematica*. And I, for one, expect routinely to use both of them.

They fit together really well. Because from *Mathematica* Online there’s a single button that “peels off” a notebook to run on the desktop. And within desktop *Mathematica*, you can seamlessly access notebooks and other files that are stored in the cloud.

If you have desktop *Mathematica* installed on your machine, by all means use it. But get *Mathematica* Online too (which is easy to do—through Premier Service Plus for individuals, or a site license add-on). And then use the Wolfram Cloud to store your files, so you can access and compute with them from anywhere with *Mathematica* Online. And so you can also immediately share them with anyone you want.

By the way, when you run notebooks in the cloud, there are some extra web-related features you get—like being able to embed inside a notebook other web pages, or videos, or actually absolutely any HTML code.

*Mathematica* Online is initially set up to run—and store content—in our main Wolfram Cloud. But it’ll soon also be possible to get a Wolfram Private Cloud—so you operate entirely in your own infrastructure, and for example let people in your organization access *Mathematica* Online without ever using the public web.

A few weeks ago we launched the Wolfram Programming Cloud—our very first full product based on the Wolfram Language, and Wolfram Cloud technology. *Mathematica* Online is our second product based on this technology stack.

The Wolfram Programming Cloud is focused on creating deployable cloud software. *Mathematica* Online is instead focused on providing a lightweight web-based version of the traditional *Mathematica* experience. Over the next few months, we’re going to be releasing a sequence of other products based on the same technology stack, including the Wolfram Discovery Platform (providing unlimited access to the Wolfram Knowledgebase for R&D) and the Wolfram Data Science Platform (providing a complete data-source-to-reports data science workflow).

One of my goals since the beginning of *Mathematica* more than a quarter century ago has been to make the system as widely accessible as possible. And it’s exciting today to be able to take another major new step in that direction—making *Mathematica* immediately accessible to anyone with a web browser.

There’ll be many applications. From allowing remote access for existing *Mathematica* users. To supporting mobile workers. To making it easy to administer *Mathematica* for project-based users, or on public-access computers. As well as providing a smooth new workflow for group collaboration and for digital classrooms.

But for me right now it’s just so neat to be able to see all the power of *Mathematica* immediately accessible through a plain old web browser—on a computer or even a phone.

And all you need do is go to the *Mathematica* Online website…

*To comment, please visit the copy of this post at the Wolfram Blog »*

We’re bringing back our Alpha Albums contest with new song lyrics (collected in collaboration with LyricFind) from some of the bands that will be featured at this year’s festival! What that means is that we take albums from the artists, enter a word cloud query request in Wolfram|Alpha for that album, and post the generated image in a tweet. From there, all you loyal fans will have one hour to submit your guesses via Twitter in an @-reply; at the end of the submission period, we will choose a random winner from the correct entries.

We know it will be mighty tempting to cheat the system and try to search the lyrics online, but we’re hoping that everyone will play nice and keep the competition fair. Here are a few helpful hints to get you started:

- The largest words, closest to the center, appear most frequently on the album. Common words like “and,” “or,” etc., are removed by default.
- Look for unusual words that might tip you off to specific songs, like “cannonball” in the word cloud pictured above (from
*Last Splash*by The Breeders).

So what’s in it for you? Our lucky winners will receive three free months of Wolfram|Alpha Pro!

And as an added bonus for those of you attending Pygmalion, Wolfram will have a booth at the festival on Saturday and Sunday where you can participate in a live version of this contest. Fans who correctly guess the word clouds on display at the booth will have the opportunity to win posters of the word clouds! The grand prize winner will have his or her poster autographed by one of the headliners!

The contest goes live tomorrow at 1pm CDT and will be held every Wednesday running up to the first day of the festival, Thursday, September 25. Good luck!

For a full list of Alpha Albums contest rules, visit Official Rules for the Wolfram|Alpha® Alpha Albums Contest. Let us know your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter, and have a great time!

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