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Wolfram gives Mathematica 8 a human touch
Mathematica 8 can solve mazes. width="500" height="345"/>

Mathematica 8 can solve mazes.

(Credit:Wolfram Research)

Wolfram Research has released Mathematica 8, bringing some rudimentary human-language skills to the mathematics and scientific software by building in some abilities of the Wolfram Alpha search engine.

It’s an unusual combination. Mathematica can produce stunning graphical displays and dig into the murkiest data sets, but only for those who learn its control language.

“Free-form linguistics understands human language and translates it into syntax–a breakthrough in usability,” said Chief Executive Stephen Wolfram in a statement.

Well, the Alpha language can’t exactly give Mathematica the ability to chat at cocktail parties. But it can understand the command “pi 20 0digits” and translate it into the more rigorous Mathematica command of “N[Pi, 200].”

If you know how to estimate multivariate nonparametric probabilities and expectations, Mathematica 8 can help you along. width="270" height="270"/>

If you know how to estimate multivariate nonparametric probabilities and expectations, Mathematica 8 can help you along.

(Credit:
Wolfram Research)

When the commands work, they’re translated into Mathematica form for those learning its intricacies, the company said. And they improve as the Wolfram Alpha service improves, independent of the software. Wolfram Alpha also connects Mathematica to the service’s curated data sets.

On a more nuts-and-bolts level, Mathematica pushes forward into ever more arcane areas of math, engineering, and science–probability and statistics, group theory, waveform analysis, image processing, financial derivatives calculations, and constructing a Kalman filter for a stochastic system.

Under the covers, Mathematica gets new hardware abilities. It now can tap into the power of graphics chips, either using Nvidia’s CUDA architecture or the more general OpenCL interface developed by Apple and the Khronos Group.

Mathematica is expensive. There are discounts for nonprofits, hobbyists, academics, and group uses, but the basic software for a single user is more than $3,000.

Mathematica 8 can plot the structure of a corporate Web site. width="500" height="492"/>

Mathematica 8 can plot the structure of a corporate Web site.

(Credit:
Wolfram Research)

Originally posted at Deep Tech

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