Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Meet an Inventor Who Makes Complex Calculus Simple," by Gautam Naik. WallStreet Journal, 25 September 1996, page B1.

This article describes the power and usefulness of Mathematica, themathematical software invented by physicist Stephen Wolfram. Since 1986Wolfram's software has brought the power of mathematics to bear on animpressive array of problems, from optimizing the geometry of shampoomolecules, to analyzing various insurance law scenarios. When designing thebicycle arena for the Olympics in Atlanta, engineers turned to Mathematica tohelp them solve the complex equations needed to optimize speeds, as well as toproduce a detailed 3-dimensional model of the 235 pieces of steel that snaptogether to make the arena. The article also describes some educational usesof Mathematica and the controversy over use of computers in the classroom. Thearticle ends with a confession by Wolfram that he never learned long division.

-Allyn Jackson