What Is the Wolfram Language?
The Wolfram Language is a computer language. It gives you a way to communicate with computers, in particular so you can tell them what to do.
In this book, you’ll see how to use the Wolfram Language to do a great many things. You’ll learn how to think computationally about what you want to do, and how to communicate it to a computer using the Wolfram Language.
Why can’t you just say what you want using plain English? That’s what you do in Wolfram|Alpha. And it works very well for asking short questions. But if you want to do something more complex, it quickly becomes impractical to describe everything just in plain English. And that’s where the Wolfram Language comes in.
It’s designed to make it as easy as possible to describe what you want, making use of huge amounts of knowledge that are built into the language. And the crucial thing is that when you use the Wolfram Language to ask for something, the computer immediately knows what you mean, and then can actually do what you want.
I view the Wolfram Language as an optimized tool for turning ideas into reality. You start with an idea of something you want to do. You formulate the idea in computational terms, then you express it in the Wolfram Language. Then it’s up to the Wolfram Language to do it as automatically as possible.
You can make things that are visual, textual, interactive or whatever. You can do analyses or figure things out. You can create apps and programs and websites. You can take a very wide variety of ideas and implement them—on your computer, on the web, on a phone, on tiny embedded devices and more.
I started building what’s now the Wolfram Language more than 30 years ago. Along the way, particularly in the form of Mathematica, the Wolfram Language has been extremely widely used in the world’s research organizations and universities—and a remarkable range of inventions and discoveries have been made with it.
Today the Wolfram Language has emerged as something else: a new kind of general computer language, which redefines what’s practical to do with computers. Among the early users of today’s Wolfram Language are many of the world’s leading innovators and technology organizations. And there are large and important systems—like Wolfram|Alpha—that are written in the Wolfram Language.
But the very knowledge and automation that makes the Wolfram Language so powerful also makes it accessible to anyone. You don’t have to know about the workings of computers, or about technical or mathematical ideas; that’s the job of the Wolfram Language. All you need to do is to know the Wolfram Language, so you can tell your computer what you want.
As you work through this book, you’ll learn the principles of the Wolfram Language. You’ll learn how to use the Wolfram Language to write programs, and you’ll see some of the computational thinking it’s based on. But most of all, you’ll learn a set of powerful skills for turning your ideas into reality. Nobody knows yet all the things that the Wolfram Language will make possible. It’s going to be exciting to see—and what you learn in this book will let you become a part of that future.