ND1 to use Mathematica™ in the cloud as CAS

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ND1 to use Mathematica™ in the cloud as CAS

Postby oliver » Sat Apr 14, 2012 3:17 pm

A contract has been signed, and it can (finally) be announced:

The next version of ND1 will have an in-app purchase option for a CAS. The CAS will be powered by Mathematica™ via Wolfram|Alpha™ commercial API by Wolfram Research, Inc. Mathematica™ is widely recognized as the most capable math package on the planet.

The CAS is integrated seamlessly: it performs behind the scenes just like built-in functions. Operands are taken from the stack and results returned to it.
For example, applying the integral (Classic: INTVX) command to 'cos(ln(x))+sin(ln(x))' yields 'x*sin(ln(x))'.

CAS commands will come in Modern and Classic variations, where Classic will continue to track the HP-50g syntax.
The same commands may result in different (better) results, compared to the 50g. The integration above, for example, does not yield a result on the 50g.

The CAS will be in the cloud. That is, Internet access will be required. The amount of data moved is very small, so the response time is fast and data volume during use is low.

A (hopefully) exciting feature is that the CAS can be very easily extended by the user.
For example, here's how to implement a simplify instruction (would it not exist):
Code: Select all
      ME.expr["simplify"] = function(x) { return calculator.callWA("simplify", x); };
This function will take an algebraic expression and return an array of simplified expressions.

One line functions like this is usually all it takes to implement functions that can do simple or complex math. If you know how to do something in Mathematica™ or on the wolframalpha.com command-line, you know how to add it to ND1. (A guide to writing CAS extensions will be provided when the CAS launches, but this example contains almost all an extender needs to know.)

Wolfram|Alpha is rich beyond providing math functionality. All of it will be available via this API. Initially, only certain data types (such as Algebraic expressions and numbers) will be supported, but eventually even image and table results will be supported.

I sincerely hope some of you will be excited by the new CAS option as much as I am.

Regards,

Oliver
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Re: ND1 to use Mathematica™ in the cloud as CAS

Postby alm » Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:20 am

I already gave you some feedback in my previous topic, but let me repeat and expand on it now it's actually on-topic.

I'm convinced that you will have the most advanced CAS in a mobile device, at least until Wolfram/Maplesoft release a mobile version with their kernel. Wolfram does have a Mathematica player presumably containing the full Mathematica kernel for iPad, but it only allows you to play demonstrations made in the full Mathematica program. The common CASes running on mobile devices (eg. xcas, REDUCE and whatever the proprietary one used by MathStudio is called) are much more limited than Mathematica.

On a device without 3G, however, requiring internet access is a deal breaker for me. This means I won't be able to use it if I'm without wifi coverage, and would need yet another app as backup. If I have wifi access, then I'm more likely to be near a computer with Maple/Mathematica/MATLAB, so I'm less likely to use ND1 for complex calculations. Requiring an in-app purchase for something I won't be able to use part of the time means I have to pay twice, once for the ND1 CAS and once for another CAS. Of course for the latter it makes a difference if the in-app purchase is $2 or $20.

Some details:
Will there be a way to evaluate an expression from the stack directly in WolframAlpha, so one can enter for example 'D[x^2,x]', press 'evalWA' and get '2x' back? Or even 'x^2', 'x', 'D', 'evalWA', as true RPN?

Will the user have a way to easily access the Mathematica documentation so they can look up function names, like in the current function reference for ND1?
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Re: ND1 to use Mathematica™ in the cloud as CAS

Postby oliver » Sun Apr 15, 2012 3:40 pm

Hi alm,

I understand that requiring an Internet connection is a bit of bummer. Clearly, this is a trade-off. We get Mathematica, and that happened to me worth this requirement (and a license fee). If anything, WiFi and 3G are going to get more ubiquitous, so a couple of years from now, this is probably not a concern anymore.

The ND1 CAS will cost $5. So, it's not the world. (Sign up to beta-test it, give some feedback, and get it free!)

I didn't plan on an "evalWA" function. While super-easy to implement, there's a problem with that. This gets a bit technical. See the new thread, "Extending the CAS".
[EDIT: I'm starting to like the idea. The new reply is: yes, there should be such a function, it's possible, and I'll look into implementing it. It may not be there right off the bat. The mentioned trivial function will work to some extend and could be used right away.]

There will be documentation for the CAS, just like the present documentation, but no Mathematica™ documentation. That's because the CAS command set will continue to be oriented on the 50g, and conventions as to function names and formatting of expression will be preserved. Modern syntax may borrow a bit from Mathematica naming, but functions continue to have parentheses and not brackets, the natural logarithm is called ln (LN) and not log, etc.
That is, Mathematica syntax is not exposed to the user. Extenders can use it, or rather permissible W|A syntax, when implementing individual CAS (or other W|A) functions.

Know that you can type a URL into the command-line and that will open that page. You can put that on a key and thereby have one-tap access to web-based documentation. (Yes, you need the Internet again. But, then, you even do for the built-in documentation. Though, I may change that...)

Cheers.
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Re: ND1 to use Mathematica™ in the cloud as CAS

Postby oliver » Mon Apr 16, 2012 2:22 am

Two more notes:

Mathematica on the iPad would be fantastic, of course.
I see two problems, though:
1) last time I downloaded the CDF player plug-in it was >500 MB. Whatever app they'd come up with would be about this large.
2) Wolfram cannot just cannibalize their desktop platform. How much can they charge for an iPad version of Mathematica? Hundreds of dollars? I don't think so. (And how do they prevent commercial use?)
In my mind, they will probably make Mathematica available as a paid-monthly service and keep it in the cloud. SaaS is all the rage now, and it actually makes sense for an app like this. (And latency and speed over 4G are not much of an issue.) Having software maintained on a server is a big advantage, I think. I wouldn't enjoy having to repeatedly update a 500 MB app on my iPad.
Plus, for many things, the cloud will actually be faster than an on-board system! You're using a supercomputer vs. an ARM machine.

If enough people want an on-board CAS, I will add one as a second CAS option. W|A offers more than "just" a CAS, and you can get those bits only through the cloud. So, it would even make sense to have both options. I'm exciting to see what uses people may find for the W|A API. (I'm expecting people to start creating and sharing stuff once the UI building feature is released. You could build any number of tools just around W|A.)
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Re: ND1 to use Mathematica™ in the cloud as CAS

Postby Prairie » Tue Oct 01, 2013 8:54 pm

I am new to ND1, so maybe I haven't figured it out, but has W|A been fully integrated with ND1? I am only able to get back images to W|A queries. In reading the forums, I was under the impression that there was going to be an in-app upgrade allowing for an API with a richer set of returned values. I would like to call W|A and utilize returned values directly for subsequent calculations. If this is already available, I apologize for the post.
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Re: ND1 to use Mathematica™ in the cloud as CAS

Postby oliver » Fri Oct 04, 2013 10:48 pm

Hi Prairie.

Thanks for your interest and apologies (to you and everyone else) for the huge delay with the in-app CAS purchase!
While massively delayed, the CAS is coming. I sent you a private message with CAS beta access information. You can gain access immediately and the beta CAS will allow you to do your own development either using existing functions, or--and it sounds like you're interested in going in that direction--writing your own functions that extend the CAS / use W|A/Mathematica in the cloud.

The beta CAS isn't quite as complete as what will ship because it needs v1.5 under-the-hood stuff, but pretty close.

Oliver
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Re: ND1 to use Mathematica™ in the cloud as CAS

Postby Prairie » Sun Oct 06, 2013 9:45 am

Oliver,

Tried to send you a private message. Not sure it went through. In any case, I've not gotten the beta instructions you referenced.

Thanks
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Re: ND1 to use Mathematica™ in the cloud as CAS

Postby oliver » Tue Oct 08, 2013 10:45 pm

I just resent. Sorry, looks like I messed up sending the private message. (You have to press the Submit button twice, on two different dialogs. I also didn't receive your message, possibly for the same reason. You should get a confirmation saying the private msg was sent successfully and it should appear in your Outbox until it's picked up. I double-checked that now and it should have worked this time.)
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