Wolfram Research's Mathematica has been put to many novel uses, and now author Neal Stephenson has put it to use in a novel. Stephenson's Cryptonomicon, highly praised New York Times bestseller, includes several calculations and diagrams produced by the author with Mathematica.
Cryptonomicon is a tale set in World War II England and today's Southeast Asia, and it is saturated with information describing the relationship between computers and cryptanalysis. Stephenson has earned himself a reputation as a writer particularly attuned to silicon—"a powerful voice of the cyber age," as USA TODAY wrote. He has also gathered a strong following among the computer literate.
Stephenson used Mathematica to perform calculations appearing in the book and also to create several charts and diagrams. One series of diagrams involved generating the profile of a mountain in cross section; Stephenson programmed Mathematica to generate an appropriate fractal curve.
Stephenson shares one other affinity with Mathematica: they both grew up in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.