Wednesday, May 30, 2012

To Go Where No Math Has Gone Before


by Brian Peacock

We have many goals for FastFig, but one of the things that gets me most excited is the prospect of putting powerful and often complex math models in the hands of the non-technical crowd.  A little bit of background: 

FastFig will include a sharing system where users can share a model—an equation or snippet of FastFig code—with the world.  Each model will have its own page that will include information about it and a simple inputs-in-answer-back interface.  It doesn't matter how complex the model is, anyone will be able to use it by simply entering values for the different fields and pressing the equals button.  FastFig will spit back an answer.

Why am I so excited about this?  Because it will give EVERYONE access to computations that were once privy only to those technically trained (mathematicians, engineers, scientists, etc.).  What will people do with this new power?  I really can't wait to find out.  Can we use it to save energy?  Or perhaps better understand economic issues?  To visualize population growth?  Or to understand the impact of a of a construction project?  And researchers will be able to share their findings in a way that can be used by anyone NOW.  Using science in ways we never have before.  That's the prospect that keeps me working late into the night.  

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