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Stephen Wolfram: Simple Solutions

The iconoclastic physicist's Mathematica software nails complex puzzles

Even if you're not into exotic subjects such as particle physics, cosmology, or math theory, chances are pretty good that you know about Mathematica, the program created by physicist Stephen Wolfram. He's the iconoclastic London-born genius who won a PhD from California Institute of Technology in just one year, at age 20.

Since Mathematica's launch in 1988 by Wolfram Research Inc., the software has become hugely popular among product designers, architects, and financial analysts. And for engineers and scientists, Mathematica is something of a bible. Wolfram's software is used not only to solve complex math problems but also to create and analyze computer models. It can predict how varying the ingredients in a shampoo will alter its flow through different-size bottle openings, for example, or how the pounding of ocean waves will affect a breakwater.