## Mathematica 6 Launched 222

Posted
by
kdawson

from the simulate-this dept.

from the simulate-this dept.

Ed Pegg writes

*"Wolfram Research has just released Mathematica 6. That link, in addition to the usual 'dramatic breakthrough' material, has an amazing flash banner that simultaneously shows a thousand mathematical demonstrations all at once. The animations came from the Wolfram Demonstrations Project, a free service with 1200+ dynamically interactive examples of math, science, and physics, all with code. For the product itself, much is new or improved, with built-in math databases, improved visualizations, and more."*
## Wolfram Demonstrations Project (Score:2, Informative)

http://www.maa.org/editorial/mathgames/mathgames_

That a dollar in nickels needs $1.88 in metal to be made is surprising.

## For something less closed-source, ... (Score:5, Informative)

## Re:For something less closed-source, ... (Score:5, Informative)

## Re:For something less closed-source, ... (Score:5, Informative)

## Interesting (Score:2)

## Open source CAS/numerical software (Score:5, Informative)

For other open source options, see Comparison of computer algebra systems on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org].

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I love maxima and octave btw

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www.octave.org

( Open source MATLAB clone )

## Or FreeMat! (Score:2)

My favorite part of their site is the quote from the FAQ:

"Q:Is FreeMat 100% compatible with MATLAB? What about IDL?"

"A:No. FreeMat supports roughly 95% (a made up statistic) of the features in MATLAB."

Mathematicians making jokes about made up statistics, hee hee :-)

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(I looked at it about 3-4 years ago, but after a while I got frustrated with it and got my boss to buy me Mathematica 5. I no longer remember what it was that frustrated me.)

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## 3D-Accelerated Rendering? (Score:4, Interesting)

## RTF web site (Score:4, Informative)

"Seamless optimization with graphics hardware on all computer platforms."

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Though my biggest complaint is the front end, as always (reading through the site it seems they still use those outdated widgets...)

## Re:3D-Accelerated Rendering? (Score:5, Informative)

Back in the day, I used to be friends with the guy who did this stuff (met him at one of the LUGs). Turns out that he's now a prof at one of the better schools in India [iitb.ac.in].

Anyway, Mathematica rocks, too. There is a lot more that you can do and it has some pretty neat capabilities. Besides, the strength of Mathematica is not merely the engine, it is the libraries and the wealth of demos and code out there.

## Re: (Score:2, Informative)

Also, speaking of cool VTK stuff, there is VisIt (http://www.llnl.gov/visit/ [llnl.gov]). Seems very cool, and it's BSD-licensed (can they do that? they redistribute Qt with it...)

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## The REAL question... (Score:2, Funny)

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## Cost (Score:2)

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JOhn

## I'm torn... (Score:5, Informative)

However, I recently ran into one of those "top 10 reasons why proprietary software is annoying" situations. I hadn't used Mathematica in awhile, and wanted to go back to some old code and re-run some analysis. However in the meantime I had migrated from Windows to Linux. No problem--the install disk has the installer for Windows, Linux, and Mac all in one. Great. So I install it in Linux and then get the annoying "you must register this product to use it." (On Windows it gives you two weeks before locking out, but in Linux it won't open unless you enter the code, which changes with each new hardware installation.) The online automatic registration said I had to contact them via email. So I did. Eventually got the reactivation code. Turns out it didn't run properly on Linux. The controls were clunky and I couldn't get individuals block to execute (though I could re-execute an entire workbook.) Okay, no problem--I have a Mac laptop. So I load it up there. Then I have to go through the reactivation process again. Another email, more waiting. Eventually get it running.

My point is that I had alot of difficulty getting my (legitimately purchased) copy of Mathematica to actually work for me. I was in a hurry and just wanted to run some code quickly. This 10-minute operation turned into a 4-day ordeal, at the end of which I was very frustrated. It really reminded me the great advantages of programming in standards-based languages, that have open-source implementations. If the code had been written in python (using the Gnu Scientific Library), I would have been able to run it without hassles, and I could send the code to others, knowing that installing Python (on the OS of their choice) was always easy.

I don't want to turn this into a stereotypical OSS vs. proprietary rant... but this very recent experience with Mathematica has left a bad taste in my mouth--and I was previously very much a Mathematica evangelist!

## Re: (Score:3, Informative)

I sympathise. I'm finishing up a PhD in signal processing, and all my coding has been in Matlab. I love Matlab - it's a fantastic package - but licensing is a pain in the ass. The number of times I've been unable to use (my legitamate copy of) Matlab because of some issue with the license server... It's cost me at least a couple of weeks' productivity. I know many other students in the same boat.

For my post-doc work, I'll be using another package. I'll definitely be investigating SciPy (http://www.scipy.org

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I'm going to have to give SciPy a try--it looks very cool.

Thanks!

## Re:I'm torn... (Score:4, Insightful)

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My main point was that it took so long to even discover the problem, due to artificial licensing restrictions. I'm not really even complaining about the glitches on Linux.

That having been said, I think it's

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## Re:I'm torn... (Score:5, Insightful)

It's this mindset...this "OSS is holy....just because" group-think that keeps OSS from truly gaining traction with mainstream users. It's the community's insular nature, lack of interest in how software is actually used by people, and general "We know better, so there" attitude that keeps the whole concept sidelined.

Marking my question as a troll might make the moderators feel like they've done something useful. All they've really done, though, is show their ignorance and their desire to not have to look at the real issues. They'd rather just hold on to their belief of "it's just better....because!"

## Re:I'm torn... (Score:4, Interesting)

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So yes, speaking from experience I can say that, in general, an OSS program

doeshave better support on Linux than a closed source app does. If Mathema## Re:I'm torn... (Score:5, Interesting)

Mathematica, wonderful as it is, should only be used for prototyping.

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ifthere were any pending bugfixes.## Re: (Score:2)

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## Re:I'm torn... (Score:5, Informative)

> data analysis or theoretical calculations. [etc.]

I do science in the real world. I can safely say that's a patently ridiculous assertion. We rely on any software we can get to work. Often that's commercial software, because people who develop good software in science frequently take it commercial.

It's our results that need to be replicated, not our methods. Anyone can do the same thing and get the same result. Doing it by a different method and getting the same result is a much more rigorous validation. As long as it's a different box, it doesn't matter if one or both are black.

It's also to our benefit to use commercial software because it's cheaper to buy it, including (re)licensing fees and support, because it's cheaper than paying salary to a code hacker to keep things running. Maybe some have the spare time to hack their own code. I wish I did. But I've got more important things to do.

I've worked in a lab that at first had a EE doctoral student doing Matlab code, and then started using some hardware that required doing analysis in Code Warrior. We needed to get someone else. Not good for the first guy, and expensive in either case for us. I also started collaborating with a lab that used the only open source analysis software in our field (only one other lab used it; the one the lab director came from). I could do by myself what took them 3 people to do, and get it done faster. The collaboration didn't last long.

The accepted procedure in carrying out and publishing research is to reference the software manufacturers in the text and/or references section. If anyone wants to check the results by getting the same things and doing the samr things with them to check validity, they're welcome to. But they don't. They use what they have and compare results. If they really want to check the validity of results, they can get copies of the validity testing done on the software. Any decent software maker will have already done all the validity testing necessary and is glad to make that data available.

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1) In MATLAB, you can actually look at the source and figure out what it's doing (unless it's a MEX routine). To use your example, you can actually type "edit ode45" in the console and the source code pops up.

2) It is not that difficult to use a MATLAB routine in a C or FORTRAN program. You just have to do a MEX callback. It's not entirely straightforward, but it's not exactly crazy either. There are times when you do want to do this: M

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The Hubble telescope and LHC have produced many hundreds, if not thousands, of papers on instrumentation: design, construction and calibration. Moreover, there are hundreds of eyes from competing institutions looking at various components during the entire process.

Mathematica's programming language is transparent, but the code behind all the special functions and numerical routines have only been seen by people working toward Wolfram's bottom line. To their credit, they cite scientific references for

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For hardware, it's published specs and calibration data; if there are questions, open design documents can be scrutinized, as well as the devices themselves.

For software, it's unit, regression and validation tests. If there are questions, open

sourcecan be scrutinized.## Re: (Score:2)

(IDL [ittvis.com] has some traction in astronomy and aeronomy, but these are the very people leading the SciPy [scipy.org] development effort.)

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Mass-market CPUs are single data/single instruction. So, between validation and open source, it is easy to catch hardware bugs and faults.

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Not at all. Ever since the pentiums we've had vectorization which are single instruction multiple data. A lot of math work in particular will be hopefully vectorized by the compiler.

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I don't want to turn this into a stereotypical OSS vs. proprietary rant... but this very recent experience with Mathematica has left a bad taste in my mouth--and I was previously very much a Mathematica evangelist!

It isn't so much that Mathematica is proprietary. It's just that Wolfram still indulges in practices that the rest of the closed-source software industry has given up on: charging as much as they can get away with, and putting piracy prevention ahead of customer experience.

I developed an interest in Mathematica many years ago when I read an intriguing article by Stephan Wolfram on the innovative things he'd done with the Mathematica programming language. Even though I'm not the usual math or hard science g

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I find it hilarious that you claim this with a straight face, in light of XP/Vista's WGA/OGA and other such misfeatures.

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It isn't so much that Mathematica is proprietary. It's just that Wolfram still indulges in practices that the rest of the closed-source software industry has given up on: charging as much as they can get away with, and putting piracy prevention ahead of customer experience.

Um, well, probably the two most important proprietary software vendors in the world (for the general public) are Microsoft and Adobe. If charging $400 for a WGA-infested Vista "Ultimate" license or $2000 for a CS3 Master Collection that can lock you out if you have to replace a completely failed machine on short notice doesn't qualify as what you said above, I don't think Wolfram's practices do either...

## Re:I'm torn... (Score:5, Informative)

More than that: it changes

with network device configuration. If your wireless card changes, or you insert a new one,or they get renamedor whatever,you have to get them to reactivate it. I've only bought Mathematica once--the student version several years ago, and I've not bought a new one since.No, wait. I'm wrong. I bought 5.1 or 5.2 because I had 4.something, because 5.whatever had been released and

therefore switching notebooks would have cost meall because they were now shipping 5.x and it was an "old" version. I kid you not. I've had to call them several times because some network device was renamed differently (funny, nothing else on my system seems to care what I call my wireless card, and I've switched the name around a few times) and they couldn't cope with the fact that my ipw2100 card was now "ipw2100" instead of "eth2".$40This, however, is only

slightlyless annoying than Matlab, which requiresthe effingthanks to craptastic gaming CD checking technologies. I'vedocumentation CD to be mounted in order for it to runnotbought another license from them.Say what you will about IDL (wow I hate that system) but at least its licensing is straightforward. Heck, I bought it 4 years and a whole notebook (not to mention a plethora of network devices) ago, and it is still running off of the original license file.

I'm looking into Maple (can anyone tell me what

theirlicensing scam looks like?), but so far the only math/graphing system I've not absolutely hated is the one I've not yet used....## Re: (Score:2)

I'm looking into Maple (can anyone tell me what their licensing scam looks like?),Bound to MAC address. Just use ifconfig.

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With FlexLM, you can usually spoof the MAC and keep on going.

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in Linux it won't open unless you enter the code, which changes with each new hardware installationMathematica is very nearly the only piece of commercial software I own, and I've used it off-and-on since 2.0 came out. But I haven't upgraded my 4 to 5 and don't plan to buy 6 because it is such a pain to reactivate every time my hardware changes on Linux. I'm not sure what the parameters are for requiring reactivation, but IIRC things like adding a new hard-drive will do it. It just got to be too much of

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All I can say is that I learned my lesson. Since I finished my PhD work I have moved exclusively to linux and tried to limit

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As to your installation problems, they really are a Linux problem. I had the following problem: when I upgra

## Student scam.... (Score:3, Informative)

## Re:Student scam.... (Score:5, Funny)

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Although, my original post was just a joke about how PhDs can drag on into the distant future :-P

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Ah. Unfortunately for me, the "long time" to which you're referring is a year to a year and a half in my case. So not at all useful for me. :(

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academicprice is outside of my price range!## Can't anyone create a GNU version of Mathematica (Score:5, Interesting)

Mathematica has a killer engine (kernel), but a lousy UI, and it costs a shocking amount of money. Mathematica was one of the first pieces of software to scan your computer's MAC address and serial number while you entered the activation key, so it could not be installed on more than one computer (this after the $250-$1000 price tag). A student can get the castrated $250 version, but the real version is considerably pricier. Wolfram's treatment of his users is as distrustful as Micro-Suck.

Why can't the FOSS community beat Wolfram at this? Octave, Maxima, Yacas; they all fail miserably in comparison. The UI for Yacas is so idiotic that the function that transposes a matrix is

Transpose[], anine-characterentry for an operation that a real mathematician may use a few hundred times in a given program. At least Mathematica is smart enough to useT(or at least it was when I last used it, at 4.0). Why can't we do better than this?The best UI of any CAS was the UI for the built-in graphing calculator for Mac OS 9. The current version, NuCalc, is available for Mac and Windows, but it is proprietary, and there is no plan for a Linux/UNIX version. The FOSS community can put a UI like NuCalc over a Maxima engine, use MathML and/or LaTeX for the syntax (like LaTeX input, MathML output). Use code from GNU TeXmacs for the UI, but include the beautiful way that NuCalc simplifies fractions and radicals (and algebraic equations) by clicking on them with the mouse. Brilliant. And possible. Future generations of math and physics and engineering grad students will thank us.

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It's hard to find highly-qualified people willing to work for free. Yes, I know some people get paid to write FOSS, but it happens only in those cases where some other means of earning money is possible. This is the exception rather than the rule.

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The reason why no-one has bothered to make free software for this niche is that it is

so fucking boring.## Re: (Score:2)

Because, you know, people are amazingly good at doing boring stuff as long as it gets them a shitload of money on their bank account...

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2) Mathematica was written by people who find this stuff the most interesting shit in the world.

The problem is not that there is no-one who finds it interesting enough to write.. the problem is that there isn't enough people who find it interesting - and the result is useful to people who are not interested in writing it. So the people who find this crazy interesting jump at the chance to write it and tell everyone they know what they are doin

## the problem is it takes a long time to write (Score:2)

The problem is not that there is no-one who finds it interesting enough to write.. the problem is that there isn't enough people who find it interesting - and the result is useful to people who are not interested in writing it. So the people who find this crazy interesting jump at the chance to write it and tell everyone they know what they are doing (who just look at them like they're talking about stamp collecting) and then someone comes along and says "hey, ya know, we can sell this."

I'd love to write something like mathematica and give it away for free... I just can't afford the time needed to write it because I got a mortgage to pay (I owe 1.3 gazzillion dollars on shack on a postage stamp sized lot) and I've got kids to feed (about 67 at last count). My boss makes me work every waking hour to get my paycheck... and the lawyers say if I worke on open sourcem they'd own the IP anyway.

So yeah, I know how to write something that would blow the doors off mathematica and kick matlab's a

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The reason why no-one has bothered to make free software for this niche is that it is so fucking boring.If you think you're up to it, why not start by implementing the full functionality of Mathematica's

FullSimplifyroutine (one single routine). I can guarantee you it's not boring at all, though you're unlikely to finish it this millenium unless you have a PhD and some serious experience.## Re:Can't anyone create a GNU version of Mathematic (Score:2, Insightful)

And I understand that if it were Open or Free that it could be the product of many free months of effort and be a win for its users, bu

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## Re:Can't anyone create a GNU version of Mathematic (Score:2)

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## Re:Can't anyone create a GNU version of Mathematic (Score:2)

As a mathematician, and more to the point an applied mathematician, I can confirm that indeed the FOSS offerings are usually significantly inferior to proprietary solutions.

Maxima, though theoretically powerful, lacks the sane(r) syntax of either Mathematica or Maple. It's also buggier and lacks the sheer breadth of abilities that Mathematica has on hand. I'm not as familiar with Yacas, but if I r

## Too bad it's not GPL (Score:2)

## Best thing is buried in there.... (Score:3, Interesting)

So It seems they've finally caught up to the 21st century....

## I hope they fixed Ei and E_n (Score:4, Interesting)

Integrate[Exp[-a*x+i*b*x]/(x^2+y^2),{x,0,infinity

Maple can't do them either, so it's not like I'm just bagging Mathematica. Exponential integrals have a branch cut in the complex plane and the programmers never seemed understand it. Not that Mathematica was capable of simplifying the resulting sum of logarithms, because it wasn't, but at least it could give you something correct.

Here's wishing for the best from a program that doesn't get supported with bug patches. I reported this years ago. Yeah it's a bug, but no it won't get fixed in my copy. Why would I upgrade otherwise?

## Mathematica very frustrating (Score:5, Interesting)

Why? Because when it does its symbolic algebra thing, it largely acts as a black box. You've got no idea how it got its answers. So you can't rely on it.

So, if you're using it to figure out any symbolic algebra out that's part of research that you're later going to publish, at best it's useful for finding things which you then have to show by hand anyway.

## Open source systems are out there, too (Score:5, Informative)

Axiom: http://wiki.axiom-developer.org/ [axiom-developer.org] (formerly known as Scratchpad) was developed at IBM as a commercial system, sold to NAG, and released a few years ago as an open source program.

and

Maxima: http://maxima.sf.net/ [sf.net] (descended from the pre-commercial Macsyma codebase) was maintained by William Schelter for many years and he obtained permission to release it as open source. Sadly, he passed away a few years later but the Maxima project has grown and now has many active contributors.

They won't have the glitzy graphics or army of specialized packages Mathematica boasts, but they also don't cost $1500 and (theoretically) can be audited for correctness all the way down to their foundations. I regard the latter as very important for people trying to do scientific research with computer algebra tools, and what's more no commercial company is required for their survival (the story of Macsyma is a very good object lesson.)

Maxima is the more "engineering" oriented of the two systems and will probably make more sense to Mathematica inclined users - it can use gnuplot, run on Windows and has a decent GUI called wxMaxima: http://wxmaxima.sf.net./ [wxmaxima.sf.net] Axiom is more oriented towards being "strong" mathematically - it takes more getting used to and has very ambitious goals for long term mathematical research. It is attempting to become a literate program in the tradition of Knuth's TeX system. It doesn't currently have the interfaces to familiar tools the way Maxima does.

Both systems are already very powerful and while there are many bugs to work out progress is being made. If you're shopping around for a CAS and are interested in open source systems, I highly recommend checking them out.

(Bias disclosure - I have been a (minor) member of the Maxima project and am currently interested in/doing a little work on/with Axiom, in case the URL in my info doesn't give it away.)

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R is located at http://www.r-project.org/ [r-project.org]

Octave is at http://www.gnu.org/software/octave/ [gnu.org]

## Re:Open source systems are out there, too (Score:5, Informative)

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In the distant future, some kind of integrated portable platform for both high-performance numerical analysis and reliable symbolic/special functions calculation would be

fantastic## Re: (Score:2)

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I also love MuPad Light, but unfortunately the company took it completely commercial, eliminated the free student/educator/personal license, and hosed all of their original developers. Luckily, I archived the ins

## Demonstration project (Score:2)

I clicked on the Demonstration Project link [wolfram.com], then browsed through the list of demos and decided to try the Monty Hall Problem [wolfram.com] demo.

It brings me to a flash application which lets me experiment with the problem by clicking on doors and then seeing where the prize is. Actually, it doesn't. It gives me two options: I can download a "live version", or I can watch a demo of

someone elseclicking on doors and seeing where the prize is. Hello? This is flash, it'salready interactive! Gah..## A debugger at last!!! (Score:2)

"Full-featured source-level debugger, including breakpoints, watchpoints and stepping."

If you haven't used Mathematica, you have no idea how badly the debugging sucks (prior to the new version.)

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## "Numbers are neither good nor evil"? (Score:5, Funny)

[SHUT UP ALREADY]?## Summarizing the summary (Score:5, Insightful)

## Re:I guess... (Score:4, Funny)

That said, I'd hate to be the guy whose project it was to create all those demonstration pages. Probably given to the interns or something.

Boss: Your job is to create demonstrations involving basic arithmetic.

Intern: Wait, I'm here because of my studies on octonions.

Boss: I don't care. Today your job is to show people how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide.

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## I think you mean... (Score:5, Funny)

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"Does it run Linux in Rule 110?"Not sure how far that kind of nerdery is gonna get you... even on slashdot. Know that you've been modded up in my heart.

Here's some wikipedia articles for anyone that's dug this far and is wondering what we are talking about:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_110_cellular_au t omaton [wikipedia.org]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turing_complete [wikipedia.org]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_Cook [wikipedia.org]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_computation [wikipedia.org]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_New_Kind_of_Scien [wikipedia.org]