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Almost any workflow involves computing results, and that's what Mathematica does—from building a hedge fund trading website or publishing interactive engineering textbooks to developing embedded image recognition algorithms or teaching calculus. Mathematica is renowned as the world's ultimate application for computations. But it's much more—it's the only development platform fully integrating computation into complete workflows, moving you seamlessly from initial ideas all the way to deployed individual or enterprise solutions.

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.

The text understanding of Wolfram Alpha has advanced steadily, with hundreds of subject domains added. They go well beyond the service’s origins, which built off the knowledge base in Mathematica, a popular math-formula software created by Dr. Wolfram. Serious math students, though, remain among Wolfram Alpha’s most avid users. The subjects in the Wolfram Alpha database are now more useful to the average person. Type in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy showtimes,” and Wolfram Alpha delivers the schedule for local theaters. The movie times, Dr. Wolfram notes, come not from scouring the Web, but from a specialized information service.

The algorithms that Dr. Wolfram and his group wrote “are prototypes for what we might be able to do for everyone,” he said. The system may someday end up serving as a kind of personal historian, as well as a potential coach for improving work habits and productivity. The data could also be a treasure trove for people writing their autobiographies, or for biographers entrusted with the information. Dr. Wolfram has also scanned 230,000 pages of paper documents and, when possible, fed them through an optical character reader. He has at the ready his medical test data, complete genome, GPS location tracks, room-by-room motion sensor data and much more — all possible fodder for future analysis.

For over 20 years, faculty and staff worldwide have used Mathematica for everything from teaching simple concepts in the classroom to doing serious research using some of the world's largest clusters. Mathematica continues to provide faculty with interactive lessons to engage students, deepening their understanding and preparing them for the future across a wealth of disciplines. Academic researchers can utilize Mathematica to quickly and accurately analyze data, test hypotheses, and document results. And because Mathematica delivers more capabilities, taking the place of several specialized kinds of software, schools can utilize Mathematica at a lower cost across campus.

Someone who needs to, say, get the value of pi to the 200th digit would enter "pi 200 digits" into the command box, rather than encode the question in the Mathematica syntax ("N[Pi, 200]"). Or a user could enter an entire math problem, such as "2a-b=3, a+b+c=1, c-b=6," and the software will intuit that the values of a, b and c will be needed, and return the result. Overall, version 8 of the software has more than 500 new features and functions, according to the company. For the first time, the software can generate answers as working C code and standalone executable programs or libraries, eliminating the middle step of translating the Mathematica output.

"Mathematica users with GPU-enabled systems from laptops to high-end Tesla super-computers will now be able to perform complex, data-intensive computations much more easily," added Andrew Cresci, general manager, vertical marketing solutions at Nvidia. "Mathematica's intuitive CUDA programming interface eliminates the need to write C/C++ or FORTRAN code to take advantage of GPU computing, making Mathematica a compelling choice for anyone looking to harness GPU high-performance computing capabilities."

In the real world, mathematical techniques are used more than ever but without those involved knowing the manual methods. Instead their intellect is applied to formulating ever-more complex problems mathematically, thinking through what questions need to be answered, what calculation to instruct the computer to perform, and how to interpret the computed result in real-life. Before computers were applied, the limiting step was almost always the individual’s capacity to calculate; now the issue is our ability to formulate an idea or interpret a result appropriately. Using computers for calculating is liberating everyone outside education to employ high-powered mathematics even if they don't know the details of how it's being worked out.

We’ve got technology that can make instant applications automatically. The connection between readers and authors is going to get much closer, so that often an author will set up, instead of just writing something. You can imagine a journalist, as an example, setting up an application to represent some story they’re writing, which the reader can then interact with.

Wolfram Research has announced a collaboration with Nimbis Services, a clearing house for accessing third-party compute resources and commercial software, and R Systems NA, a provider of computing resources to the commercial and academic research community, to provide cloud computing access for Mathematica users.

In a sense the ultimate idea of our course-assistant apps is to provide automated expert tutoring for anyone anywhere. They're also a good way to "scope out" what's involved in a course, and work out as many examples as one wants. For teachers, one of the interesting things is that the course assistant apps don't just do elementary examples: they handle the real-world cases too. So it becomes possible to explore concepts in much more realistic settings.

We should be "posing the right questions", Wolfram stated, and then allowing students to turn real-world issues into maths formulations and maths formulations into real-world answers. Questions such as how much can you compress a photo before you see an effect? What makes things beautiful? How many levels of friends are we separated by on Facebook? And how would you deal with a specific currency in a specific situation? These are far more likely to get children thinking, he argues. Wolfram bluntly stated that the argument that computers dumb maths down is simply ridiculous. "Computers do the calculating to allow people to transform the world," he said.