### The Secret Life of a Mathematica Expression

The Mathematica software has been around for quite a while now. It pioneered notebooks (eat that, Jupyter) and was already pretty advanced when it first came out.

Most of the time, Mathematica is seen as that super powerful and rich environment for doing all things math. Which it is. What’s less appreciated is that it comes with a complete *programming language* that enables all these things. The language is based on just one fundamental principle, *pattern matching*. It may be a little awkward to appreciate that 3+4 isn’t just simply an addition, but involves some pattern matching before doing the computation.

A former colleague at Oracle Labs, David Leibs, has put together a nice (and increasingly nerdy) presentation on *The Secret Life of a Mathematica Expression* that I highly recommend. Be warned, it goes pretty deep on the semantics and how they can be used to build that big math brain extension called Mathematica. But it’s also highly instructive as a deep look into how a *different* and definitely not mainstream programming paradigm works, and how powerful it is.

Tags: the-nerdy-bit, hacking