Stephen Wolfram

Computer Scientist and Physicist Class of June 1981

About Stephen's Work

Stephen Wolfram works in basic science and practical computing.

Building on his discoveries in the early 1980s, Wolfram’s scientific work involves the development of a major new approach to science, in which nature is described in terms of simple computer programs rather than traditional mathematical equations. His work provides new foundations for examining a range of fundamental questions in physics, biology, computer science, mathematics, and other areas. Wolfram is also involved in the development of software for technical computing. He is the creator of Mathematica Version 1.0 (1988), a system and language for technical computing now used by more than a million scientists, engineers, students, and others.


Wolfram is the president and chief executive officer of Wolfram Research, Inc., a company concerned with advanced computing technology and responsible for producing Mathematica. Prior to founding the company in 1986, he served on the faculties of the California Institute of Technology, the School of Natural Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of A New Kind of Science (2002) and The Mathematica Book (5th ed., 2003).

Wolfram studied at Eton College and the University of Oxford, and received a Ph.D. (1979) from the California Institute of Technology.

additional information

Stephen Wolfram is the CEO and chief technologist of Wolfram Research, which currently has a staff of about 700, mostly involved with research and development. Building on ideas from his magnum opus, A New Kind of Science, Wolfram has embarked on an ambitious project to make the world's systematic knowledge computable.  The result, first launched in 2009, is the Wolfram|Alpha computational knowledge engine, which is used by millions of people every day and serves as the basis for intelligent assistants such as Siri. Wolfram has been progressively building a stack of technology for nearly three decades, which in 2014 led to the launch of the Wolfram Language—a unique knowledge-based computer language in which as much knowledge as possible about computation and about the world is built into the language.  The Wolfram Language has many implications for software and application development, as well as for data science and other applications of computation.  It is also the basis for a major new educational initiative aimed at teaching computational thinking through his non-profit organization, The Wolfram Foundation. Wolfram currently spends the majority of his time architecting technology and understanding its implications.  He is interested in a wide range of areas where computational thinking is relevant.  He lives in Concord, MA, and has four children.

Last updated November 2017.

Published on June 1, 1981

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