Wolfram Demonstrations Project

The Wolfram Demonstrations Project is an organized, open-source collection of small interactive programs called Demonstrations, which are meant to visually and interactively represent ideas from a range of fields. It is hosted by Wolfram Research, whose stated goal is to bring computational exploration to the widest possible audience. At its launch, it contained 1300 demonstrations but has grown to over 10,000; the site won a Parents' Choice Award in 2008. The Demonstrations run in Mathematica 6 or above and in Wolfram CDF Player, a free modified version of Wolfram's Mathematica and available for Windows and Macintosh and can operate as a web browser plugin, they consist of a direct user interface to a graphic or visualization, which dynamically recomputes in response to user actions such as moving a slider, clicking a button, or dragging a piece of graphics. Each Demonstration has a brief description of the concept. Demonstrations are now embeddable into any website or blog; each Demonstration page includes a snippet of JavaScript code in the Share section of the sidebar.

The website is organized by topic: for example, mathematics, computer science, art and finance. They cover a variety of levels, from elementary school mathematics to much more advanced topics such as quantum mechanics and models of biological organisms; the site is aimed at both educators and students, as well as researchers who wish to present their ideas to the broadest possible audience. Wolfram Research's staff organizes and edits the Demonstrations, which may be created by any user of Mathematica freely published and downloaded; the Demonstrations are open-source, which means that they not only demonstrate the concept itself but show how to implement it. The use of the web to transmit small interactive programs is reminiscent of Sun's Java applets, Adobe's Flash, the open-source Processing. However, those creating Demonstrations have access to the algorithmic and visualization capabilities of Mathematica making it more suitable for technical demonstrations; the Demonstrations Project has similarities to user-generated content websites like Wikipedia and Flickr.

Its business model is similar to Adobe's Acrobat and Flash strategy of charging for development tools but providing a free reader. Official site

Euclidean geometry

Euclidean geometry is a mathematical system attributed to Alexandrian Greek mathematician Euclid, which he described in his textbook on geometry: the Elements. Euclid's method consists in assuming a small set of intuitively appealing axioms, deducing many other propositions from these. Although many of Euclid's results had been stated by earlier mathematicians, Euclid was the first to show how these propositions could fit into a comprehensive deductive and logical system; the Elements begins with plane geometry, still taught in secondary school as the first axiomatic system and the first examples of formal proof. It goes on to the solid geometry of three dimensions. Much of the Elements states results of what are now called algebra and number theory, explained in geometrical language. For more than two thousand years, the adjective "Euclidean" was unnecessary because no other sort of geometry had been conceived. Euclid's axioms seemed so intuitively obvious that any theorem proved from them was deemed true in an absolute metaphysical, sense.

Today, many other self-consistent non-Euclidean geometries are known, the first ones having been discovered in the early 19th century. An implication of Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity is that physical space itself is not Euclidean, Euclidean space is a good approximation for it only over short distances. Euclidean geometry is an example of synthetic geometry, in that it proceeds logically from axioms describing basic properties of geometric objects such as points and lines, to propositions about those objects, all without the use of coordinates to specify those objects; this is in contrast to analytic geometry, which uses coordinates to translate geometric propositions into algebraic formulas. The Elements is a systematization of earlier knowledge of geometry, its improvement over earlier treatments was recognized, with the result that there was little interest in preserving the earlier ones, they are now nearly all lost. There are 13 books in the Elements: Books I–IV and VI discuss plane geometry.

Many results about plane figures are proved, for example "In any triangle two angles taken together in any manner are less than two right angles." and the Pythagorean theorem "In right angled triangles the square on the side subtending the right angle is equal to the squares on the sides containing the right angle." Books V and VII–X deal with number theory, with numbers treated geometrically as lengths of line segments or areas of regions. Notions such as prime numbers and rational and irrational numbers are introduced, it is proved. Books XI–XIII concern solid geometry. A typical result is the 1:3 ratio between the volume of a cone and a cylinder with the same height and base; the platonic solids are constructed. Euclidean geometry is an axiomatic system, in which all theorems are derived from a small number of simple axioms; until the advent of non-Euclidean geometry, these axioms were considered to be true in the physical world, so that all the theorems would be true. However, Euclid's reasoning from assumptions to conclusions remains valid independent of their physical reality.

Near the beginning of the first book of the Elements, Euclid gives five postulates for plane geometry, stated in terms of constructions: Let the following be postulated:To draw a straight line from any point to any point. To produce a finite straight line continuously in a straight line. To describe a circle with any centre and distance; that all right angles are equal to one another.: That, if a straight line falling on two straight lines make the interior angles on the same side less than two right angles, the two straight lines, if produced indefinitely, meet on that side on which the angles are less than two right angles. Although Euclid only explicitly asserts the existence of the constructed objects, in his reasoning they are implicitly assumed to be unique; the Elements include the following five "common notions": Things that are equal to the same thing are equal to one another. If equals are added to equals the wholes are equal. If equals are subtracted from equals the differences are equal.

Things that coincide with one another are equal to one another. The whole is greater than the part. Modern scholars agree that Euclid's postulates do not provide the complete logical foundation that Euclid required for his presentation. Modern treatments use more complete sets of axioms. To the ancients, the parallel postulate seemed less obvious than the others, they aspired to create a system of certain propositions, to them it seemed as if the parallel line postulate required proof from simpler statements. It is now known that such a proof is impossible, since one can construct consistent systems of geometry in which the parallel postulate is true, others in which it is false. Euclid himself seems to have considered it as being qualitatively different from the others, as evidenced by the organization of the Elements: his first 28 propositions are those that can be proved without it. Many alternative axioms can be formulated. For example, Playfair's axiom states: In a plane, through a point not on a given straight line, at most one line can be drawn that never meets the giv