Friday, July 22, 2011

Embedding a Computable Document in a Blogger Post

Peeking at the source code in the Wolfram blog post here has revealed to me how to embed CDF documents in Blogger posts, and here is the proof:

To view this content, please install Wolfram CDF Player. You can install the free CDF Player here.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Computable Document Format

A post Launching the Computable Document Format (CDF): Don’t Compress the Idea, Expand the Medium at the Wolfram Blog explains why CDF is so important, and it points to some nice examples of its use. If you find that mapping your high-dimensional thoughts onto a 1-dimensional line (i.e. a traditional static document) destroys most of the information, then CDF is for you (i.e. an interactive dynamic document). I have always found that using Mathematica - the engine under CDF's hood - has given me an enormous advantage over my peers who used  "A N Other Product", because it allows me to do literate programming and lots more in a unified way. However, I always ended up rewriting everything in traditional 1-dimensional style to communicate with other people - usually not very successfully. CDF changes the game because it allows me to present material in the natural form in which it was created in the first place. Not only that, the interactivity of CDF it makes it much easier for the reader to understand what you are saying/doing. My previous post contains some practise runs at using CDF, though I'm sure I will do better after I have studied the Wolfram's examples of CDF use.

What about long-term archiving of material? Will CDF be around in 10 (or 100) years? As far as I know, the only "complete" and "open" document format with a long track record is TeX/LaTeX, so that is my preferred choice to ensure my place on the "dusty shelf" in perpetuity. Sometimes, I even print things out on paper!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Interactive Demonstrations - Computable Document Format

Wolfram Research supplies a free plug-in for viewing and interacting with online documents saved from Mathematica in Computable Document Format (CDF) - the plug-in can be downloaded from here. I thought that I would try it out on a few of my interactive Mathematica demonstrations, and here are the (draft) results for you to enjoy:
  1. Topographic String: This grows a 1-dimensional self-organising map, starting from 3 nodes and progressively inserting additional nodes. It is an implementation of the SOM training method that I published in 1988: "Self-organising multilayer topographic mappings", Proceedings of 2nd International Conference on Neural Networks (San Diego, USA), pp. I/93-I/100 - an online version is available here.
  2. Ising Model: This simulates a 2-dimensional Ising model, and it allows you to dynamically vary the clique factors for the 4 distinct types of 2-clique (i.e. N/S, E/W, NE/SW, SE/NW) to see how the Ising model behaves. It is an implementation of the Ising model simulations described in a report that I wrote in 1985: "The implications of Boltzmann-type machines for SAR data processing: a preliminary survey", RSRE technical report, 3815 - an online version is available here.
  3. BZ Reaction: This simulates the Belousov–Zhabotinsky reaction-diffusion system - it's very pretty.
  4. Current Algebra: This interactively computes commutators of products of current operators - it's a bit inflexible, but it shows some interesting Mathematica techniques in action.
  5. IMO 2011: This is hot off the press in response to Terence Tao's Minipolymath3 project: 2011 IMO, which plans to work on Q6 of the 2011 International Mathematics Olympiad. I have implemented an interactive version of Q6, so you can get an intuitive feel for the geometry involved. Update: I see that TT eventually decided to go with Q2 rather than Q6. Oh well, my interactive Q6 is fun to play with anyway.