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Can Wolfram Engine do more than Mathematica?

Posted 25 days ago
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Is there anything that the new Wolfram Engine can do that Mathematica (including the WolframScript that comes with Mathematica) cannot do?

P.S. Once again, WRI has confused things with its multiplicity if products with their overlapping functionality and similar names! (See: https://community.wolfram.com/groups/-/m/t/1096129)

14 Replies

In short, no.

(well, if we don't count the kind of significant ability to be freely available for certain purposes)

From https://www.wolfram.com/engine/faq/

How does the Free Wolfram Engine for Developers relate to Mathematica?

It's the same core engine, but with a different interface and different licensing. Mathematica is used primarily for interactive computing, with the Wolfram Notebook interface. The Free Wolfram Engine for Developers is intended to be called by other programs, using a variety of program communication interfaces. The Free Wolfram Engine for Developers is licensed for pre-production use in developing software. Unlike Mathematica, it is not licensed for generating outputs for commercial or organizational use.

Just what does that qualifying phrase "but with a different interface" in WRI's FAQ mean?

Distributed with Mathematica is the wolframscript package, which allows one to call the Wolfram language from the command line; and of course there are the various methods of linking Mathematica to programming languages, databases, etc.

Is there something more to the interface of Wolfram Engine than is already available with wolframscript + Mathematica?

Is there something more to the interface of Wolfram Engine than is already available with wolframscript + Mathematica?

No, there isn't. In fact, the notebook interface (Frontend) is not available in the Wolfram Engine product.

Yes, of course I realize that the Front end is not available in the Wolfram Engine. But "interface" is a more general terms that could refer to APIs, etc.

Right, so in general equal (or less, where the NB interface is concerned) capabilities compared to Mathematica and a different license / cost.

Posted 25 days ago

Screenshot from wolfram.com / Products & Services:

enter image description here

It could be a good idea to also include a link to something like "Which product serves my needs best?"

"It could be a good idea to also include a link to something like 'Which product serves my needs best?' ":

In a sense WRI already has that information, albeit distributed over a number of pages. What's really lacking is a table comparing features, licensing terms, perhaps even cost.

It's not uncommon when one is trying to pick one of several competing or similar products, or version of a piece of software, to allow the user to check-mark several of the products/versions and then click a button that produces such a table of comparisons.

My experience with trying the Wolfram Engine:

It is basically a free version of Mathematica. Since it's free, it comes with restrictions. What are they? Amazingly, very very little (apart from the license, which prohibits certain types of uses). It seems to me that the only technical restriction is that notebooks cannot be edited (however, they can still be viewed).

In more practical terms: 1) you can use it from the command line 2) you can use it with Jupyter https://github.com/WolframResearch/WolframLanguageForJupyter 3) or you can develop your own front end for it, which is not as far fetched an idea as it sounds. There are Jupyter integrations created by others such as https://github.com/mmatera/iwolfram and https://github.com/Ludwiggle/JWLS There were attempts in the past to create alternative interfaces (based on Emacs or a better command line).

Posted 24 days ago

I am a Mathematica user but installed the Wolfram Engine and Wolfram Language Kernel for Jupyter to test it out. Installation was hassle free, and using Jupyter for WL is as easy as using it with Python or R. Of course not all of the features of the Mathematica notebook are available (e.g. rotation of 3D plots, Stylesheets), but that does not diminish the fact that the Wolfram Language and a widely used interactive front-end are freely available. It is a great way for organizations and individuals to explore WL.

Can one just as easily &msdash; if one had reason to do so! — use a Juypter notebook interface to the kernel of an ordinary Mathematica installation?

I already use Juypter notebooks to interface with other languages, including J and Python. So at times being able to stay within Juypter would be attractive.

(Just to avoid any possible misunderstanding: they'd have to pry the Mathematica Front End out of my cold dead hands before I'd give it up!)

Posted 24 days ago

Yes, I have used Wolfram Language Kernel for Jupyter with both a Mathematica installation on a Mac and the free Wolfram Engine for Developers on Linux. Installation of the kernel is the same in each case: make sure the wolframscript command is in your path, then run configure-jupyter.wls add from the directory in which you cloned the git repo found here.

I think the main use case for Jupyter + Wolfram Engine is on a compute cloud instance (AWS, Google Cloud etc) or on a virtual private server. It is not a replacement of Mathematica on a local machine, but on a remote one Jupyter is the natural choice.

Can one just as easily — if one had reason to do so! — use a Juypter notebook interface to the kernel of an ordinary Mathematica installation?

Yes, there is nothing special about the kernel found in a Wolfram Engine installation vs a Mathematica installation.

In other words, the Wolfram Engine is simply the text-based CLI and the kernel. Basically, MathKernel.exe (sp?) on Windows, which I think has always been present. (No experience with wolframscript, so can't address that.)

That is, Mathematica without the notebook FrontEnd.

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