Things have been quiet here on Permutations, most likely because we’re all trying to get as many publications done over the summer as possible. I suspect I’m not the only one who giggles when undergrads ask me what I plan to do during summer “vacation”. Nevertheless, we are still keeping an eye out for things that might be of interest to the mathematically inclined, and I recently became acquainted with Wolfram Alpha, a program that attempts to do for statistics and data analysis what the hand calculator did for rote computation. You can see a demonstration of the whole thing here:
Really interesting stuff, but I wonder if a natural language interface and hiding the coding issues will actually make it easier to get good answers, or just simpler to get subtly misleading ones.