From Wolfram via Slashdot:

With the release of Mathematica 8 today, the single most dramatic change is that you donâ€™t have to communicate with Mathematica in the Mathematica language any more: you can just use free-form English instead.

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In each case, the Wolfram|Alpha engine will synthesize Mathematica code to do what you asked, then apply this code to the result you had before.

Well, this is the beginning of something very remarkable: the ability to do programming with free-form linguistic input.

Weâ€™re just at the beginning of this process. But already the Wolfram|Alpha engine can handle a wide variety of Mathematica concepts. Like list manipulation, image processing, string manipulation, import-export, and even user interface construction.

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I think this is all a pretty big deal. You see, in the past, if you wanted to do any serious programming, you really had no choice but to learn a precise formal programming language. But now you can just tell the computer what you want to do using plain English.

And the big effect of this is going to be that the barrier between programmers and non-programmers will come down. Everyone is going to be able to be a programmer.

I also think this is a big deal. The natural language parser they are using seems to be more powerful than anything that I've seen before, though as with Alpha, it seems to have definite limitations.

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