The Biggest Thing for Software Startups Since, Well, Software

Stephen Wolfram's decades-in-the-making programming language could enable coders to develop apps that we can't even dream of today.

Scientist and entrepreneur Stephen Wolfram's soon-to-be-released computer programming language could become the foundation of countless new apps and websites and open the door to huge new opportunities for software businesses.

This week the founder and CEO of Champaign, Illinois-based software company Wolfram Research posted a video introducing Wolfram Language, a project he says he's been working on in various forms for 30 years. The language simplifies a wide range of extremely complex programming elements, enabling coders to build all manner of powerful applications quickly and with lower development costs.

"It will spawn a whole mass of new startups," Wolfram tells VentureBeat. "Now it becomes realistic for someone to build out a complete algorithm and automation system in a few hours."

Wolfram bills the project as by far the largest programming language ever. "A vast amount of knowledge about how to do computations, and about the world, is built right into the language," he says in the video.

The new language allows programmers to write a lot of code using natural language, and provides sets of algorithms to automate many functions. It also can access huge amounts of useful computable data stored in the Wolfram cloud, further widening the types of applications it can create.

Ultimately though, the way the highly technical language works and its potential uses are best explained by its inventor. Here's his video summary.

Wolfram Language is already in use in Mathematica, Wolfram's Research's software for the science and engineering community. Mathematica is in turn part of the basis for Wolfram Alpha, an advanced search engine and one of the sources that powers Siri's question-answering capability on the iPhone.

Wolfram says that when it's released, the new language will be available in a desktop version, as well as embedded in the Raspberry Pi, a tiny computer popular among hackers.

"As long as a person can describe what they want, our goal is to get that done," Wolfram tells VentureBeat. "A human defines what the goal should be, and a computer does its best to figure out what that means, and does its best to do it."

Below, watch one of Stephen Wolfram's videos from Inc.'s Idea Lab series, and click here for more videos featuring his thoughts on his software, the nature of intelligence, and how he goes about spinning off new businesses. 

3 Things You Should Know About Science

Inventor Stephen Wolfram responds to the turbulence and fuss that he instigated when he published his book, A New Kind of Science.

IMAGE: Redux
Last updated: Feb 26, 2014

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