Wolfram Language & System 10.4 (2016)|Legacy Documentation
|The Wolfram Language kernel||the part that actually performs computations|
|The Wolfram System front end||the part that handles interaction with the user|
Such a design has many advantages over a monolithic system. For instance, the Wolfram System front end could be run on a local computer with enhanced graphics capabilities while the Wolfram Language kernel might be run on a faster remote computer. Or, multiple kernels could be run from a single front end.
The most common way to work on the Wolfram System is to use interactive documents known as notebooks. Notebooks mix Wolfram System input and output with text, graphics, palettes, and other material. You can use notebooks either for doing ongoing computations, or as a means of presenting or publishing your results.
|Notebook interface||interactive documents|
|Text‐based interface||text from the keyboard|
|WSTP interface||communication with other programs|
An important aspect of the Wolfram System is that it can interact not only with human users but also with other programs. This is achieved primarily through WSTP, which is a standardized protocol for two‐way communication between external programs and the Wolfram Language kernel.
Among the many WSTP‐compatible programs that are now available, some are set up to serve as complete front ends to the Wolfram System. Often such front ends provide their own special user interfaces, and treat the Wolfram Language kernel purely as an embedded computational engine.