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An Elementary Introduction to the Wolfram Language Paperback – December 11, 2015

4.5 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Stephen Wolfram is the creator of the Wolfram Language, as well as Wolfram|Alpha and Mathematica. He has been a pioneer in the science and technology of computation for nearly four decades. He started using computers while doing physics research in his early teens, and made many important discoveries that led eventually to his groundbreaking 2002 book A New Kind of Science. Since 1986, Wolfram has been CEO of Wolfram Research, one of the world's most respected software companies, known for its long history of technical innovation.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Wolfram Media, Inc. (December 11, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1944183000
  • ISBN-13: 978-1944183004
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 1 x 9.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,670 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jerry Saperstein HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 12, 2015
Format: Paperback
I am somewhat more than an amateur at coding, but in my opinion, far from being a real powerhouse pro. I am slow since I don’t code often and need to constantly refer to manuals. But I do understand programming concepts, so I can spec the job out and get it done, either by myself or hiring someone.

That may change, though. I’m sitting here, actually excited about the possibilities and potential of the Wolfram Language.

It is totally mind-blowing.

I am particularly interested in text and image processing. To date, I have been using Python for text processing because it is an easy, yet powerful, language to learn and use.

But processes and functions that would be fairly complex and time consuming to create in Python can be expressed in a single line of Wolfram Language code.

Likewise, I wouldn’t think of attempting image processing myself in Python – but in Wolfram, I can invoke very sophisticated image analysis processes in a single line.

Totally mind-blowing.

It is unfortunate that the Amazon “See Inside” feature has not yet been implemented for this book because it would be immensely valuable to potential purchasers who know nothing of the Wolfram Language. In lieu of this, you might check the Wolfram Language website for the “Fast Introduction For Programmers”. This may seem a bit of a cop-out in a review of a book about the language, but this language is radically different than any language I’ve ever used and I needed an overview before I could really believe what I was seeing and reading.

The book itself is very clearly written with dozens, if not hundreds, of operations and functions described in one or two paragraphs, each containing examples.
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Format: Paperback
An Elementary Introduction to the Wolfram Language is, in fact, an elementary introduction the the powerful programming language which underlies Mathematica which nevertheless manages to survey much of the capabilities of the language, from basic mathematics to 3d graphics and machine learning, among many other topics. This in itself should be rather surprising to anyone who has programmed before. How can an introductory book include topics like machine learning and 3d graphic? The answer lies in the structure of the Wolfram programming language which is designed to make doing complex activities in programming easy to do. In fact, it is about as easy to do addition in this language as it is to do machine learning! While this is somewhat of an exaggeration, it is nevertheless close enough to the truth to show what this language is designed to do, namely enable the programmer to do complex things with a small number of lines of code. So, as you read this book, which literally starts out with code for adding numbers, you find yourself soon engaged in writing small programs to display 3d plots and to write machine learning code. As in introduction to the Wolfram Programming Language this book certainly serves its purpose with one small exception, the author does not make much of an attempt to put together the plethora of functions and capabilities of this language into longer programs. As a result, while I feel that I know how to write small programs for many of the functions in this language and that I can easily lookup the rest, I feel that I have little understanding of how to assemble these functions into larger scale programs. Given the introductory aspect of this book, I cannot really consider this a drawback, but the reader should expect to have to read more advanced tutorials to fully learn how to use the Wolfram Programming Language. I note that I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
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This textbook written by Stephen Wolfram is an essential for those who have Mathematica 10. I have done a review and gave my recommendation to Hands-on Start to Wolfram Mathematica by Cliff Hastings, Kelvin Michio, and Michael Morrison earlier this year and now Wolfram Media has added this to the collection. Stephen Wolfram is the founder and president of Wolfram, the publisher of Mathematica. Wolfram is an excellent teacher and textbook writer in addition to being a programming genius who brought forth Mathematica, the premier computation software package out there.

He begins by saying The Mathematica Handbook which was discontinued in 2007 with the fifth edition because at 1500 pages had reached the limit for a hardbound handbook. Wolfram writes that the current edition, 10.3, would have to be 50,000 pages and be equivalent to the Encyclopedia Brittanica in length. Much too much for a reference manual. Wolfram says that all the information is in the Help section of the program. Mathematica has the most extensive on-line documentation of any major software program.

He goes through most of the program giving an overview of the programs features. He gives examples which are supplemented by professional illustrations. He lingers on the newer areas Mathematica addresses. That is, features added since the fifth edition from 2007. He doesn't spend too much time on pure mathematics--the Hands-on Introduction by Hastings, et al. covers that nicely. Also, old copies of the fifth edition of the Mathematica Handbook are still valid. Wolfram never throws away anything. He does simplify a few of the math functions, however. On page 295 he includes a chapter on "What We Haven't Discussed.
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