Announced yesterday by renowned mathematician and computer scientist Stephen Wolfram, the Wolfram Programming Lab is described as an “environment for anyone to learn programming and computational thinking through the Wolfram Language.” The Lab works through a browser or natively on desktop across Windows, Linux, and Mac.
The basic concept behind the Wolfram Language is to automate as much as possible, with knowledge about algorithms and the world built into the language. So, in effect, you can write a little piece of code, and the computer can work out the rest for itself.
Though the Wolfram Language has existed to some extent for many years, it only became official in 2013, and in an interview with VentureBeat shortly after, Wolfram himself revealed some early plans to monetize the language. But to monetize the language, it will help if people understand it and are using it, and that is partly what the Wolfram Programming Lab is about.
The Lab has a step-by-step introductory book, written by Stephen Wolfram, called An Elementary Introduction to the Wolfram Language. It covers the basics and caters to those with zero coding experience.
“I’ve long wanted to have a way to let anybody — kids, adults, whoever — get a hands-on introduction to the Wolfram Language and everything it makes possible, even if they’ve had no experience with programming before,” explained Wolfram, in a blog post.
The Lab also features a slew of so-called “explorations” that are designed to help users develop programs based on ideas that they have.
The Lab has been a work in progress for some time, and it’s something that Wolfram said was born out of real-life experiences.
“I first started thinking about making something like Wolfram Programming Lab quite a while ago,” he said. “I’d had lots of great experiences showing the Wolfram Language in person to people from middle-school-age on up. But I wanted us to find a way for people to get started with the Wolfram Language on their own.”
Wolfram is a highly respected “brand” in the computer science realm, with its Wolfram|Alpha engine helping to power the Q&A function in the likes of Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Bing. With a dedicated online Lab now in tow, Wolfram’s company — Wolfram Research — is already building an ecosystem around the resource, one that will include educational community programs for students and teachers.
“I’m excited to see how Wolfram Programming Lab is used,” continued Wolfram. “I think it’s going to open up programming like never before — and give all sorts of people around the world the opportunity to join the new generation of programmers who turn ideas into reality using computational thinking and the Wolfram Language.”