Wolfram Computation Meets Knowledge

Wolfram Archive

The Mathematical Explorer: New Product for the Mathematically Curious

Published August 20, 2001

August 20, 2001–Have you ever wondered how the scanner at your grocery store knows when it hasn’t scanned a UPC number correctly? Can you imagine a curve that visits every single point in a square? Are you aware of the mathematical basis behind cryptography? Given the wide applicability of mathematics to everyday phenomena, it’s not surprising that recreational mathematics and puzzle solving have gained such a large following over the ages, reportedly including notables such as Abraham Lincoln, Alan Greenspan, Penn and Teller, and now-famous mathematicians such as 17th-century lawyer Pierre de Fermat. Retrace their computational footsteps with The Mathematical Explorer.

Stan Wagon, award-winning author, math educator, snow sculptor, and square-wheeled bicyclist, has teamed up with mathematical software experts at Wolfram Research, Inc. to create a unique set of explorations for investigating some of the most fascinating topics in mathematics. More than just an electronic textbook, The Mathematical Explorer is part guide, part calculator, part museum, part textbook–and completely fun.

Based on Mathematica technology, The Mathematical Explorer mixes text, graphics, and formulas in a friendly, easy-to-use interface that is completely interactive, making you a participant and not just a spectator to mathematical ideas. It invites users to explore many interesting questions about both physical and abstract phenomena and to gain insight by computation and visualization.

The Mathematical Explorer covers a wide range of topics from Escher patterns and square wheels to Fermat’s Last Theorem and the Riemann Hypothesis. Some of these subjects date back to the ancient Greeks, while others touch on the newest fields within mathematics. Every section comes with a historical introduction, biographies of relevant mathematicians, questions and answers, notes, and references for further exploration.

“The visual design is excellent. The Mathematical Explorer gives an exciting look at the material with a good balance between detail and comprehension,” says Scott Kim, of print and online Puzzle Master fame. “It even includes several currently unsolved problems for which cash prizes have been offered. Everyone from high school students to professional mathematicians–really, anyone with a curiosity about math and its applications–will find something in it of interest.”

The Mathematical Explorer is available for Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000. Visit The Mathematical Explorer web site to find more information or to explore online.