The Challenge: Write a simulation of spherical particles coalescing under gravitational attraction. Limit the approach distance by a secondary repulsive force that acts over short distances. Produce an animation of the dynamic system starting with 15 particles in randomized positions.
The goal of the competition was to find the most astounding outputs that attendees could produce from the shortest inputs—not just physics simulations, but any applications attendees could dream up. The competition was intended to highlight how much can be accomplished with a few keystrokes in Mathematica. And it was intended to give conference attendees an opportunity to entertain and amaze each other with their creativity. Which they did.
Our first task in designing the competition was to nail down what a “one-liner” is. The concept is not as clearly defined today as it was in the punched-card era, particularly with Mathematica‘s two-dimensional typesetting. We settled arbitrarily on a modern unit of information—the Tweet, or 140 characters—as the size limit of a one-liner, and permitted full use of two-dimensional typeset structures. Special consideration was given to entries that came in at 80 characters or less.
Predictably, the submissions showed great creativity and conniving in finding tricks to reduce character counts to absolute minimums. And satisfyingly, the topics of the submissions were all over the place, from esoteric mathematics to works of art, astronomy to origami.
Winner: Stephan Leibbrandt was the First-Place winner of the One-Liner Competition. Animated output, simulation of a physical phenomenon, and clever use of a variable (d) to conserve characters impressed the judges. Stephan’s code reveals a deep familiarity with Mathematica‘s programming constructs, which enabled him to pack a complete physics simulation into just 138 characters.