Stephen Wolfram’s AMA

Stephen Wolfram, of Wolfram Research and Mathematica fame, did a Q&A (i.e. AMA) on Reddit today. I just enjoyed reading through his answers. A few interesting answers stood out to me.

Someone ask Wolfram’s opinion on P=NP. He thinks it’s undecidable1.

Some smart aleck threw the Riemann hypothesis at him. Interestingly, Wolfram also suspects this is undecidable2.

One questioner asked about open sourcing old versions of Mathematica. Wolfram responded very winsomely, in my view. I didn’t know that they’ve thought about making the core language more freely available. I’d like to see that.

His most interesting answer is his opinion on Matlab. He argues that Matlab has remained matrix-centric when so much of contemporary mathematics goes beyond that. “In the complete web of algorithms in Mathematica, things that can reasonably be represented as numerical matrices are perhaps 5 or 10% of the total.“ However, Wolfram believes that Mathematica isn’t outdone by Maple in the realm of matrices.

Wolfram relays that a major goal of Mathematica is “to make a single coherent system in which one can work, and in which everything fits nicely together.” I argued that that’s one thing they’ve done quite well.

I appreciate Wolfram doing this. I continue to be optimistic about Mathematica as a product, and I hope they have a bright future ahead of them.

  1. See the Wikipedia page on undecidability for more. [return]
  2. Both the Riemann hypothesis and P=NP have been around for many years and have a big bounty on solving them: [return]