Announced at last year’s Wolfram Technology Conference, Wolfram Blockchain Labs has now become real. Stephen Wolfram’s battleship, Mathematica, will also have access to blockchains as a focal point. Finally, Stephen Wolfram is still an advisor to NKN, a blockchain-based network.
Natural scientists, engineers and mathematicians should be a term for Mathematica. The software package is known by the possibilities in terms of symbolic math and literate programming. The Wolfram Language is correspondingly widely used in the academic field.
The high price and the much more active community around the two other programming languages will have contributed to the fact that Mathematica had to give a lot to Python and R just in terms of statistical analysis.
Mathematica 12: A bridge to Ethereum
In addition to free use of the Wolfram Development Platform or integration with Raspian, Wolfram seeks to maintain a competitive edge in other areas. One of these areas is the Blockchain. Just over a year ago, that Mathematica’s version 11.3 allowed users to store data on a tungsten-owned blockchain. As shown in the linked article, such a solution could be helpful in the context of Open Science and Open Data.
For Mathematica version 12 this blockchain focus will be further elaborated. One goal seems to be less the use of a tungsten-own block chain than the analysis of existing networks. There is also a special focus on smart contracts and the exchange between on-chain and off-chain information. Details can be found in a video:
Wolfram Blockchain Labs – A blockchain company
That companies today decorate themselves with the term Blockchain is nothing new. So too tungsten. To counter this trend, Wolfram has founded a subsidiary that deals with the blockchain technology.
It seems that Smart Contracts have been interested in Stephen Wolfram for quite some time, so in 2016 he built a bridge from his thoughts on computational law to smart contracts. He sees the language behind Mathematica as a perfect language for smart contracts.
The first goal of Wolfram Blockchain Labs would be to create a source of facts, that is, a source that provides correct events for Oracles. He sees this source in Wolfram Alpha. Wolfram Alpha should already be the source of information for many Oracles. However, Stephen Wolfram does not discuss the Elephant in the Room: What about the trust problem when Smart Contracts access a central source of information? In the above-mentioned lecture, he goes into a bit about formal verification, but he still does not answer the question
With new science on new networks: NKN and Stephen Wolfram
Also from the Blockchain side an approximation takes place. So the project NKN based on so-called cellular automata would like to solve different problems in usual blockchainbasierten networks.
Cellular automata are simple programs, but they can be used for the simulation of complex behavior. Conway’s Game of Life is arguably the best-known cellular automaton. Stephen Wolfram has been working on such algorithms since the early eighties. The research results flowed into the book A New Kind of Science or NKS short. NKN stands for New Kind of Network, following Stephen Wolfram’s work, and seeks to solve the scaling and centralization debate with blockchain-based networks using cellular automata.
The relationship between the two approaches eventually led to NKN gaining Stephen Wolfram as Advisor. In a fairly technical interview with Yilun Zhang, the CTO of NKN, he discusses their approaches to finding consensus. A slightly simpler summary can be found here.
Certainly, the commitment of Stephen Wolfram and Wolfram is overall under the branding aspect. Nevertheless, it is exciting to see that the scientific world is dealing with blockchain technology. In addition, the complete absence of a “blockchain instead of bitcoin” argumentation is appealing. Also like that Bitcoin and Ethereum are not reduced to the respective courses, but that apparently the upcoming Mathematica version will have a focus on chain analysis.
Finally, it is interesting for scientists to see how cellular automata are used in the field of blockchain technology and consensus finding. What the Altcoin interested in Mathematica, however, would still wish would be a framework with which any blockchains can be examined. Maybe cooperation with NKN or the launch of Blockchain Labs can help here.