Wolfram Language – The New Best Computer Language

Stephen Wolfram has introduced a new Computer Programming Language. It is not only super cool, but is ultra advanced. It is beyond anything presently available. I saw a video about the Wolfram Language. and the approach and results are tremendous. At the time I saw it, it stood as the most advanced and superbly impressive thing I had ever seen in computers in terms of programming language technology.

The person who led its creation is Stephen Wolfram, a bona-fide genius and world-class intellect. One of his well-known creations is Wolfram Alpha, a place you can go and get some advanced questions answered.

Regarding his computer language, I do not know if the claims he has made are entirely legit. I do judge it based on what I have seen him present. As I received the information, I could not avoid comparing it to what is established practice in computer programming languages. Here are my thoughts . . .

Years Ahead of It’s Time

The Wolfram Language is easily many years ahead of its time. Perhaps there are similar solutions provided by others, but of what I have heard about, this language and solution from Stephen Wolfram is supremely ahead of any programming language I have heard about.

Hand down, it goes far beyond Java, C++, Python, PHP, Ruby and many other programming languages. The concepts of the Wolfram Language, but importantly, the execution of those concepts by Wolfram Research is easily well ahead of Microsoft .NET or Java Platform in terms of scope, scale, depth, and productivity. You’ll have to watch the video I mentioned earlier to see why it is better because Stephen Wolfram demos the language in his video presentation.

Let us talk about why his technology is better before looking at where it falls short.

Supreme in Data Processing and Transformation

The main thing most of us that apply technology to problems is transform data from one state to another. We might take loan payment histories and transform that into information about loan due versus loans satisfied. We might take population numbers by geography and transform that into marketing demographics by-product. We might take a username and password record in a database, combined with other data and transform that into a user profile page on a website.

Information technology is the transformation business. The Wolfram Language excels by making that transformation exceedingly convenient to attempt. There are some severely advanced problems the language does not solve out of the box, but it does solve the thousands of fundamental problems you traditionally had to write computer code to solve. His solution solves at least thousands, but maybe millions of transformation scenarios out of the box. The Wolfram Language is an expedient and efficient way to transform most data based on proven rules and processes for transforming data.

Maximum Productivity for Logical Rules, Data and Information Examination

When we are not involved in the exercise of trying to make data look pretty through fonts, colors, visual layouts and input fields, we may find ourselves involved in the nitty-gritty work of building an effective and accurate transformation of information. MS Excel Pivot Tables, MS Excel Formulas, SQL Database Joins and other DML/DDL may be the engine of transformation. Or, traditionally, we may be building our solution in computer code like Visual Basic, C++, or Java to represent our data transformation in a highly granular manner that maps more closely to the computer.

The Wolfram Language goes beyond both approaches. It is not a replacement for computer control languages like Java, C++, or Visual Basic and it is not a replacement for data mapping languages like SQL. Rather, it goes beyond both of these types of languages by using a kind of relaxed mathematical language as taught in formal schools. The video demo shows it better than I can explain it, but the Wolfram Language is more accessible because you simply write what you want and the Wolfram Language will figure out how to carry it out.

Cloud + Programming = Unlimited Data Transformation Possibilities

Knowledge is what the language is about. The deep technical mechanics of how to do something is already inside the language so you do not have to contend with deep or moderate levels of technical intensity to produce a result. Stephen Wolfram states that the language he has made, “Knows”, many things. He achieves part of this by using Cloud Computing. This is Cloud Computing used the right way. Basically, when you have a certain procedure, calculation, or topical query, the Wolfram engine has the option of accessing the Wolfram databases over the Web and bringing back a catalog of knowledge the software can use to answer questions and transform data.

It is superb … in concept at least. It just means you don’t necessarily have to know processes in great detail. You definitely do not need to know the mechanics of how to produce data transformation processes using traditional computer technologies. However, you do well to be informed about these things so you know what to ask. That part does not go away.

Where Can You Use The Technology?

You can use this technology for most processes that involve a computer. This includes all of the web data, data coming in from web forms, data coming out of databases to be tweaked before moving on to the next part of the system. You can use this process in video games, simulations, voice analysis, statistics, engineering and science applications, healthcare, industrial processes, retail, sports, travel, transportation, weights and measures, financial data, and on and on.

The important part is that the mechanics of technology tools and the technical environment is no longer a barrier to seeing ideas become reality. That is the innovation part of this technology.

Regardless, you do have to be a subject matter expert in a given process where you would apply technology. That part has not changed. If you are going to use technology to solve financial derivatives problems, you still have to be a subject matter expert in financial derivatives. You do not have to know databases or computer systems as such, but you do have to know the operational domain to which you would apply computer technology such as the Wolfram Language.

Traditional Programming and Traditional Use of Computer Data Processing Methods

It looks like Wolfram’s creation has the potential to diminish the need for traditional programming. Even less technical measures like database technology in which you deal not with the computer but a generalized interface to data could be replaced with this kind of technology. If you wanted to fit Wolfram’s technology to those ends, you could. I do not think that will happen though for a few reasons.

Where it is Weak

The creators of this technology has taken great effort to bring this tool to light. The magnitude of what they have created is substantial. Still, there are some realities that, at least for now, holds off any prospect that this tool would be more widely used.

  1. Costs $3,000 and up for professional uses.

    Does not compete well with the most common languages on cost. However, if the endeavor is critical enough, this cost may be acceptable given what the language provide over and beyond the naturally available options. Let’s be entirely fair. It is accessible at a low-cost or free for hobby use, a single person. What you can explore at the lower tiers may be limited. If you are going to scale out or have maximum flexibility with the tool cost could be a consideration.
  2. Cloud centric, licensed based.

    Does not appear able to standalone by default. It may require the Internet, it may require network dependencies. If this proves true, that can diminish how extensively it can be distributed and applied. You can mitigate this with wi-fi connectivity on embedded devices, but that can also prove limiting.
  3. User Interface constraints.

    You can use the screens and forms tools in the Wolfram Language package to make input fields and produce visualizations. The catch it seems is that you have to situate these things within Wolfram based environments and plug-ins. In a limited context, that would work okay, but in terms of how computer environments are setup, that is a too limiting to be universally useful. Let’s be fair, many people may find no fault with this approach. In any event, you can publish to Web and Mobile, but that seems to incur a dependency on Wolfram based packaging or plug-ins that inhibits the kinds of representations subjective tastes may otherwise prefer.

The Wolfram Language is outstanding in form and concept. Do not expect to see it spread throughout IT, app development, and elsewhere overnight. It is foreign. The technical community has seen similar things in the past that did not pan out at all. While I know that this is the real deal, finally after all these decades, it does not fit within the established modes of operation taught to or learned by technology practitioners and professionals today.

It costs between $3,000 and up to buy into for full, unfettered, traditional use as a desktop package. There are low-cost editions for non-commercial use, and Web-based cloud accounts, but one of the appealing things about current programming languages is that most of them are free, straightforward to acquire, and operate standalone and can produce fully standalone results.

What I admire about this development is that the future is here in the form of the Wolfram Language. It may take time to mature into a more suitable and widely adopted solution. I have no doubt that this is the shape of things to come for computer based solution realization. I personally, do not prefer cloud based solutions but I fully see their value. Wolfram Language in the cloud widely adopted could spread the cost out over the millions that adopt the technology in the cloud. This could be the entrance of this solution at large.

Regardless of its future prospects, this is that kind of rare, but genuine innovation. Most innovation does not strike me as rare (and I discussed earlier). This strikes me as true innovation that is amazing to see in our times.

The Foundation is in Use Today

The Wolfram based technology is already used in industry such as certain kinds of engineering and science work. You could say that the Wolfram technology is routinely applied in certain areas of endeavor. The package known as Mathematica has been usefully taught in schools and adopted by those who solve certain problems through computation.

The Other Programming Languages

The other stuff will have their uses for some time to come. There is inertia behind them built up over decades and practicalities regarding computer hardware for which they were designed. It will remain decidedly practical to use what most of us know today. It makes sense in the context of what exists today and what integrates well with mainstream environments.

Admittedly, one may find themselves combining conventional and traditional tools with the Wolfram solution in those environments in which the Wolfram Language solution is purchased and integrated into normal process. Depends on how complete the Wolfram Language is in terms of simple, mass deployment. Straightforward, seamless deployment of the Wolfram solution in traditional contexts not involving the Web access to Wolfram databases may prove a challenge.

Yes, cost and accessibility could be an issue. Still, Wolfram’s creation looks like it could ascend ahead of all existent solutions in the data transformation space. The computer language race of the best text-based language may have come to an end. Or, maybe we do not need knowledge prepackaged and ready to use ending our need to know the computer in detail. Life has a way of testing innovations and setting the stage for what will survive. If this evolves, the next wave in building solutions with ease could very well be in voice, gestures, etc.

Or, cost and accessibility may provide space for the current incumbent solutions. We will see in time. Suffice it to say, the Wolfram Language is the future real or perceived.

Learn More About Wolfram Language

There is a website with everything on it. It is the place to be. The Wolfram Language Website:

http://www.wolfram.com/language

 


By Michael Gautier

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