Wolfram Research Feed

Say it with Math: Mathematica 7 Home Edition released!


Just in time for Valentines Day, Wolfram Research releases Mathematica Home Edition for $295 (chocolates not included), a small fraction of the full professional edition price: Get it now your own and make your valentines with Mathematica! Find the true mathematical expressions of your love! (Or test out that new sexual geometry without injuring yourself -- just kidding.)

Read all about it at MacWorld, MacNN, and Business Week.

My son Peter is really thrilled that decorating Easter eggs with Mathematica, something that he thought up, is used on the announcement page as an example. 


(See also my post Who Among You are Geek Enough to Decorate Your Easter Eggs in Mathematica?)

Using Mathematica to Analyze the US Election

Jeff Hamrick of the Wolfram Research Special Projects Group has done a blog post giving instructions for using Mathematica to analyze the US Presidential Election. He shows how to pull polling data into Mathematica and how to use some of the Mathematica 6 data libraries to create your own Red State/BlueState maps.

I think this is very interesting stuff because, for those of you with Mathematica out there, you don't have to rely on how other people choose to analyze and map this data. If you have questions of your own you can introduce your own data and draw your own maps. I will be very curious to see what people come up with.

Who Among You are Geek Enough to Decorate Your Easter Eggs in Mathematica?

I dare you. Send your Mathematica egg notebooks to me. This activity, begun last night and avidly pursued this morning, has proved wildly popular with my children who are threatening to run me out of toner in my color printer.

Here's mine:

Easter Egg made in Mathematica
(Mathematica notebook.)

Now show me yours!

UPDATE: Michael Croucher at Walking Randomly has risen to the challenge and put me in an egg. There will be a number of other Mathematica-generated eggs available via the Wolfram Demonstrations Project  next week (URLs TBA) including three fancy ones by my dad, John Cramer. There have also been forays by users of Maple and Sage.  Also, see some real math on real eggs.

URL UPDATE, 3/17/08: Michael Trott, whose book inspired my son to ask for Mathematica-generated patterns on eggs, has made an egg notebook of his own and added it to his Mathematica Guidebook website. He's made a very elaborate notebook which will be expanded and included in the Version 6 edition of the Mathematica Guidebook for Graphics volume.

(Those without Mathematica can view and play with these egg notebooks using the freely downloadable Mathematica Player.)


Also,  there are now a number of egg notebooks on the Wolfram Demonstrations site, with more on the way in the next couple of days.

Watch this space: there are more that aren't up yet.

Say It with Math!

Did the dog eat that box of chocolates you bought? Or is your love on a higher plane of existence than can be expressed by mere candy, champagne, diamonds, lingerie, sonnets, teddy bears, flowers, and fine dining?

Then Wolfram Research has just what you need: Equations for Valentines from the Wolfram Demonstrations Project!


(What other Valentine comes complete with source code?)

(Via Walking Randomly and the Wolfram Blog.)

UPDATE: See also A Valentine's Day Surprise.

A Visualization of the Effect of the Fed Rate Cut

Jason Cawley, whom I know through Wolfram Research, has created a neat visualization of the various effects of interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve. I have discussed various financial news with Jason in the past, and he has written me long interesting letter. So I'm particularly pleased to see his analysis of this one on the Wolfram corporate blog.

Here's the link to his detailed blog post, "Analyzing the Fed Rate Cut in Mathematica," and here's a link to his interactive visualizations on the Wolfram Demonstrations site, entitled Macroeconomic Effects of Interest Rate Cuts.


UPDATE: Congrats to Jason, who made the Wall Street Journal blog!

"alternate universes have to be good for something"

Network Stephen Wolfram has written a few thousand words on the structure of universes which is, as might be expected, quite interesting. My favorite passage is this one:

A good friend of mine has kept on encouraging me not to throw away any even vaguely plausible universes--even if we can show that they're not our universe. He thinks that alternate universes have to be good for something.

I certainly think it'll be an interesting--almost metaphysical--moment if we finally have a simple rule which we can tell is our universe. And we'll be able to know that our particular universe is number such-and-such in the enumeration of all possible universes.

As a science fiction editor, I know what alternate universes are good for!

An animation of how the I-35 Bridge could have collpased with the failure of only 3 pieces


Yifan Hu at Wolfram Research has come up with a computer model of the I-35 bridge that shows how the bridge could have collapsed with the failure of only 3 pieces. He explains:

The picture below shows the computed stresses in a simple 2D model of the I-35W bridge, with red meaning more stress. (I got the geometry from news pictures.) There are definitely aspects of the model that are not realistic. For example, the weight of the trusses themselves isn't included. And, of course, it's in 2D.

So what happens if one of the trusses weakens?

It's easy to include this in the computation by adding an upper bound on the stress in that truss. That just adds another inequality--which FindMinimum has no problem with.

One can actually compute all this in real time inside Manipulate. Here's an animation of the result:

One sees that when the truss with maximal stress weakens (shown in yellow), the stress spreads out to other parts of the bridge. If one weakens the next truss, then the stress propagates further. And when one weakens yet another truss, then the constraints can't be satisfied at all any more--so there is no static equilibrium for the bridge, and the bridge cannot stay standing.

See it HERE.

A New Kind of Bridgebuilding: Stephen Wolfram on How We Might Design Better Bridges in the Future

In a short essay "The Space of All Possible Bridge Shapes," composed in response to the Minneapolis bridge collapse, Stephen Wolfram suggests design principles that could lead to stronger bridges:

. . . it's been known for a while that the best networks don't have that kind of simple structure. In fact, they almost seem in some ways quite random.

Well, what about bridges? I strongly suspect that there are much better truss structures for bridges than the classic ones from the 1800s--but they won't look so simple.

I suspect one can do quite well by using simple rules to generate the structure. But as we know from NKS, just because the rules to generate something are simple, it doesn't mean the thing itself will look simple at all.

Two students at our NKS Summer School (Rafal Kicinger and Tom Speller) have investigated creating practical truss structures this way--and the results seem very promising.

So what should the bridges of the future look like? Probably a lot less regular than today. Because I suspect the most robust structures will end up being ones with quite a lot of apparent randomness.

My kids meet WolframTones 9/28/05

I did this YouTube video, My Kids Meet WolframTones, about a year ago and it never occurred to me to blog it. But now that everyone is covering their blogs with YouTube videos, perhaps it's time.


Here's what I said about it last fall:

After dinner this evening, I sat my son Peter, who has just started 3rd grade, down at my computer and let him play with Wolfram Tones for the first time.  The first interesting thing that happened was that my daughter Elizabeth, who turns 3 in October, started jamming to the WolframTones soundtrack on the toy piano in the living room. (I had gotten the video camera out to film Peter, and she started while I was getting set up.)

After about 10 minutes of fiddling, Peter came up with something he really liked.

Pix from the Wolfram Technology Conference 2006

I've posted a bunch of photos from the Wolfram Technology Conference 2006. Enjoy!

Blogging from NKS2006

I have been retained by Wolfram Research to run the Wolfram Science Conference Blog for NKS2006 which started this morning. I will be crossposting some of all of what I post there.

This is my first conference post made this morning. —KC

Good morning. I'm blogging live from my well-appointed hotel room at the Fairmont in Washington, DC. NKS2006 starts this morning with the all-day NKS mini-course by the Wolfram Science staff, plus a reception this evening, where art inspired by NKS will be on display.

I got here yesterday and have been taking the hotel services for a test drive in advance. The Fairmont found me a very nice babysitter named Hazel whom I will be using for the duration of the conference. Also, they told me how to get a nearby rental car which I used to take the kids on an excursion to Chesapeake Bay yesterday. I have also pretested the hotel bar and the Juniper restaurant: pleasantly quiet, good food and drink priced as you would expect for a hotel like this.

My sister and her husband came over yesterday evening with their kids: I'm told the hotel pool is very nice, though lacking much of a shallow end for small children and that their pizza ordered from room service arrived about when room service said it would (within about 35 minutes).

A bit after 9, I encountered Stephen Wolfram in the elevator who said he expected we would all have a lot of fun this weekend.

Not Really Slacking Off

While it may look like I've been slacking off and letting my blog go to seed, actually, I've been working very hard back here on the other side of the monitor.

Important announcement: I will be doing a separate blog for the Wolfram Research NKS 2006 Conference, held in Washington, DC June 15th - 18th. (For the uninitiated, NKS stands for New Kind of Science, named for Stephen Wolfram's book.) It is a paid blogging gig, funded by Wolfram Research. URL to be announced. But I expect that it will be way cool, given the subject matter. WATCH THIS SPACE for further info.

On another subject, i gave a long interview to a reporter from the financial press on the subject of digital cartography this morning. There was a lot to say. By the end of the interview I was quite exhausted.

Anyway, I've got a lot of oranges in the air right now, and expect shortly to resume giving you a taste of them from time to time. Just now they are flying a little too fast. Lots of good stuff going on. More later.