You’ve probably used Wolfram Alpha and maybe even used the company’s desktop software for high-powered math such as Mathematica. One of the interesting things about all of Wolfram’s mathematics software is that it shares a common core engine — the Wolfram Engine. As of this month, the company is allowing free use of the engine in software projects. The catch? It is only for preproduction use. If you are going into production you need a license, although a free open source project can apply for a free license. Naturally, Wolfram gets to decide what is production, although the actual license is pretty clear that non-commercial projects for personal use and approved open source projects can continue to use the free license. In addition, work you do for a school or large company may already be covered by a site license.
Given how comprehensive the engine is, this is reasonably generous. The engine even has access to the Wolfram Knowledgebase (with a free Basic subscription). If you don’t want to be connected, though, you don’t have to be. You just won’t be able to get live data. If you want to play with the engine, you can use the Wolfram Cloud Sandbox in which you can try some samples.
Continue reading “Wolfram Engine Now Free… Sort Of”
Algebra is the bane of many a student, but it is surprisingly useful when it comes to electronics. Sure, you can just memorize all the permutations of things like Ohm’s law. But it is better if you can remember one form and deduce the others on the fly.
There are many occasions where you — as our old Algebra teacher used to say — need to use what you know to get what you don’t know. The gold standard, of course, is a computer program called Mathematica. For home and student use, the software is “only” about $160-$600, but commercial versions range from about $1,000 to nearly $8,000. Of course, there are free alternatives, and the one we’re looking at today is Mathics. It will run in your browser or as a desktop application powered by Python, and it’s available for free.
The program does a nice job of displaying mathematical formulae and you can get an idea of its power by visit the online version. which has examples if you click the question-mark in the upper right and look for the fourth item down. There’s also a standalone version of the online help.
We did have a little trouble with some of the gallery examples timing out, as well as the site certificate being expired. We also had a bit of difficulty remembering the linear algebra classes we took a long time ago! If you want something easy to play with try this:
Don’t forget to press Shift+Enter in the browser to get the solution.
Under the hood, MathJax and SymPy do a lot of the heavy lifting. In fact, we imagine a lot of the program’s intended audience would wind up using Jupyter notebooks with Python underneath. Of course, there are copies of Wolfram software on stock Raspberry Pi’s, too.
When you think of Mathematica and Wolfram, you probably think high-power number crunching. You might not think embedded systems. Wolfram runs on the Raspberry Pi, however, and there is a recent video (below) showing a Raspberry Pi, controlling I/O devices, and interacting with the Web using Wolfram data drop.
The second video, below, shows some older example projects including a simple home alarm with a PIR sensor. Not the kind of thing that Wolfram is known for, but fine as a “hello world” project. There is even a project that uses an Arduino for more I/O. Between the two videos, you can get a good idea of the sort of things you can accomplish using a Pi with the language.
Continue reading “Raspberry Pi + Wolfram Data Drop”
[Stephen Wolfram], possibly the only person on Earth who wants a second element named after him, is giving away Mathematica for the Raspberry Pi.
For those of you unfamiliar with Mathematica, it’s a piece of software that allows you to compute anything. Combined with the educational pedigree of the Raspberry Pi, [Wolfram] and the Pi foundation believe the use of computer-based math will change the way students are taught math.
Besides bringing a free version of Mathematica to the Raspberry Pi, [Wolfram] also announced the Wolfram language. It’s a programming language that keeps most of its libraries – for everything from audio processing, high level math, strings, graphs, networks, and even linguistic data – on the Internet. It sounds absurdly cool, and you can check out a preliminary version of the language over on the official site.
While a free version of Mathematica is awesome, we’re really excited about the new Wolfram language. If it were only an interactive version of Wolfram Alpha, we’d be interested, but the ability to use this tool as a real programming language shows a lot of promise for some interesting applications.
[Chris] tried his hand at using Optical Character Recognition in his server power monitoring rig. The image above is what the IP camera used in the setup sees. He’s included a bright light to ensure that the contrast is as great as possible. After applying a threshold filter to the captured still, he is able to process the image to test all seven segments of every digit.
He uses Mathematica for the processing. We’re not familiar with the particulars of the language, but it’s easy enough to see the main parts of the program. Line six of his source code applies the image filters and then the program loops through the assigned location of each digit, testing segment combinations to ascertain what number is shown. Things get hairy when it comes to the decimal point. We gather that the meter can show varying degrees of precision based on the total number of digits needed (like a Digital Multimeter). But [Chris’] setup has a difficult time reliably detecting that decimal point because of its size. He uses a shortcut to get around this, knowing that his server never pulls less than 300W so he corrects the output (by multiplying it by ten) if the reading is below that benchmark.
Of course it would be easier to crack open the monitor and glean data electronically (that’s how the Tweet-A-Watt does it) but then [Chris] wouldn’t have had the fun of playing with OCR.