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The Wolfram Demonstrations Project

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The Wolfram Demonstrations Project




The Wolfram Demonstrations Project is hosted by Wolfram Research, whose stated goal is to bring computational exploration to the widest possible audience. It consists of an organized, open-source[1] collection of small interactive programs called Demonstrations, which are meant to visually and interactively represent ideas from a range of fields. At its launch it contained 1300 demonstrations[2] but this has grown to over 9000. The site won a Parents' Choice Award in 2008.[3]

Technology

The Demonstrations run in Mathematica 6 or above and in Wolfram CDF Player which is a free modified version of Wolfram's Mathematica [4] and available for Windows, Linux and Macintosh[5] and can operate as a web browser plugin.

They typically consist of a very direct user interface to a graphic or visualization, which dynamically recomputes in response to user actions such as moving a slider, clicking a button, or dragging a piece of graphics. Each Demonstration also has a brief description about the concept being shown.

Demonstrations are now easily embeddable into any website or blog.[6] Each Demonstration page includes a snippet of JavaScript code in the Share section of the sidebar.

Topics

The website is organized into topics such as science,[7] mathematics, computer science, art, biology, and finance. They cover a variety of levels, from elementary school mathematics to much more advanced topics, including quantum mechanics and models of biological organisms. The site is aimed at both educators and students, as well as researchers who wish to present their ideas to the broadest possible audience.

Process

Wolfram Research's staff organizes and edits the Demonstrations, which may be created by any user of Mathematica, then freely published[8] and freely downloaded. The Demonstrations are open-source, which means that they not only demonstrate the concept itself, but also show how to implement it.

Alternatives

The use of the web to transmit small interactive programs is reminiscent of Sun's Java applets, Adobe's Flash, and the open-source processing. However, those creating Demonstrations have access to the algorithmic and visualization capabilities of Mathematica making it more suitable for technical demonstrations.

The Demonstrations Project also has similarities to user-generated content websites like World Heritage Encyclopedia and Flickr. However, it provides users with an authoring tool, as well as expert input in the creation of the content. Its business model is similar to Adobe's Acrobat and Flash strategy of charging for development tools but providing a free reader.


References

External links

  • Official site
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