Computation and Its Impact on the Future
Stephen Wolfram is a distinguished scientist and inventor who is most recently known for the launch of the computational knowledge engine Wolfram|Alpha. Along with the computational software system Mathematica, Wolfram|Alpha has put into action some concepts Wolfram has been developing throughout his remarkable career, most notably documented in his book A New Kind of Science (NKS).
Wolfram uses his approach to tackle a remarkable array of fundamental problems in science and technology, and shows how computation offers a whole new way of looking at the operation of our universe. He believes that computation is the most important idea that has emerged in the past century and that it will have profound implications on our future.
Each one of Wolfram's accomplishments is representative of his vision of computation. Stephen's life work is based on the idea that computation empowers the individual to discover facts and concepts that have never been explored before, with emerging platforms making computation more accessible than ever. His goal at SXSW is to inspire attendees to explore new corners of the computational universe.
Stephen Wolfram has been responsible for three revolutionary developments: the Mathematica computation system, A New Kind of Science, and the Wolfram|Alpha computational knowledge engine.
Wolfram was educated at Eton, Oxford and Caltech, receiving his Ph D in theoretical physics at the age of 20. Wolfram's work on basic science led him to a series of fundamental discoveries about the computational universe of possible programs. Summarized in his best-selling 2002 book A New Kind of Science, these discoveries have not only launched major new directions in basic research, but have also led to breakthroughs in scientific modeling in physical, biological and social domains---as well as defining a broad new basis for technology discovery.
Launched in 1988, Mathematica has revolutionized the way technical computation is done, and has been responsible for countless advances over the past two decades. Starting from a set of fundamental principles devised by Wolfram, Mathematica has continually grown, integrating more and more algorithmic domains, and spawning such technologies as the Computable Document Format (CDF).
Building on Mathematica and A New Kind of Science, Wolfram in 2009 launched Wolfram|Alpha---an ambitious, long-term project to make as much of the world's knowledge as possible computable, and accessible to everyone. Used every day on the web and through apps by millions of people around the world, Wolfram|Alpha defines a fundamentally new kind of computing platform that is turning science-fiction computer intelligence into reality.
In addition to his scientific and technical achievements, Wolfram has been the CEO of Wolfram Research since its founding in 1987. Under Wolfram's leadership, Wolfram Research has become one of the world's most respected software companies, as well as a powerhouse of technical and intellectual innovation, and a major contributor to education and research around the world.