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Mathematica 6 Launched

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the simulate-this dept.

Math 222

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."

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I guess... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18949775)

its version 6.06.06

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

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#18949827)

Please don't promote hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia [wikipedia.org] here. Numbers are neither good nor evil. When you obtain enlightment, you will discover that mathematics is God's language. Peace, my son. :P

Summarizing the summary (5, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#18949937)

"I don't know what this does but the pictures are cool"

Hey wait! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18949793)

I prefer Dear Blue Lobster [dearbluelobster.com] .

Wolfram Demonstrations Project (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18949813)

An article about the demonstrations is at
http://www.maa.org/editorial/mathgames/mathgames_0 5_02_07.html [maa.org]

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

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

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18949817)

check out SAGE: http://modular.math.washington.edu/sage/ [washington.edu]

Re:For something less closed-source, ... (1)

haroldag (962342) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950019)

good link...the summary looks like was posted by wolfram themselves. "Look how cool, and click on all of my links"
Not open, not interested. Sorry.

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

alamandrax (692121) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950109)

How about Maxima [sourceforge.net] , or Scilab [scilab.org] ? A commenter further down also suggested MayaVi.

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

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18950161)

SAGE actually uses Maxima for doing symbolic computations. In addition, you can easily drop from the SAGE console into a Maxima console. Similarly, SAGE provides consoles for GAP, Mathematica, and Maple amongst others.

Open source CAS/numerical software (5, Informative)

Noksagt (69097) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950203)

How about Maxima
I like maxima quite a bit! For certain operations, it is MUCH faster than Mathematica & other commercial Computer Algebra Systems (CASs). (The most recent example that springs to mind was a relatively simple (symbolic) cardonic equation. Maxima spit it out instantaneously.)

or Scilab?
Scilab is mostly a numerical package (similar to matlab). By many people's (OSI, DFSG, FSF, ...) definitions, it isn't free/open source--commercial redistribution of modified versions is prohibited

A commenter further down also suggested MayaVi.
MayaVI is a 3Dvisualization package & isn't remotely a CAS. It doesn't even provide analysis.

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

Re:Open source CAS/numerical software (2, Informative)

UtucXul (658400) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950649)

I like maxima quite a bit! For certain operations, it is MUCH faster than Mathematica & other commercial Computer Algebra Systems (CASs). (The most recent example that springs to mind was a relatively simple (symbolic) cardonic equation. Maxima spit it out instantaneously.)
Speed isn't the only great thing about maxima. The LaTeX output maxima provides for equations is an awesome feature that wasn't in anything else as of the last time I checked.

Re:Open source CAS/numerical software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18950715)

Mathematica has been able to output to LaTeX for some time. [keele.ac.uk] In recent versions, you can even save to a (La)TeX file.

Re:For something less closed-source, ... (1)

earthforce_1 (454968) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950599)

I used GNU octave for my thesis:
www.octave.org
( Open source MATLAB clone )

Or FreeMat! (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950611)

FreeMat [sourceforge.net] !

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 :-)

I prefer Maple (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18949823)

I think Mathematica is ok but I still prefer Maple. The coding seems to be more regular and fluid.

Cool numbers (0, Offtopic)

brianez21 (945805) | more than 7 years ago | (#18949843)

I like math. For example, this is a very cool random hexadecimal number! 0x09F911029D74E35BD84156C5635688C0 Ok, mod me down to -1 Redundant now .... I'm sorry

Yes, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18949849)

...does it run Rule 110 in Linux?

Re:Yes, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18949897)

... does it run on Vista?

I think you mean... (5, Funny)

Ibiwan (763664) | more than 7 years ago | (#18949975)

"Does it run Linux in Rule 110?"

3D-Accelerated Rendering? (3, Interesting)

setirw (854029) | more than 7 years ago | (#18949865)

As Mathematica seems to be transitioning more and more into the realm of visualization, I wonder when Wolfram Research will add support for 3D-accelerated rendering. A lot of things I've drawn in Mathematica have been somewhat limited by the software's non-accelerated output capability.

RTF web site (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18949903)

From the section on 3D improvements, a whole one click away from the summary-linked page:

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

Re:3D-Accelerated Rendering? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18949913)

I believe that the new version already support the hardware 3D acceleration (DX, OGL), if available.

Re:3D-Accelerated Rendering? (2, Interesting)

hkfczrqj (671146) | more than 7 years ago | (#18949927)

Good point... Lately I've been using software based on the VTK library, and I must say, it's beautiful, it makes Mathematica look very outdated.

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? (4, Informative)

metlin (258108) | more than 7 years ago | (#18949973)

Ah, if you are looking at VTK based software, you should look at MayaVi [sourceforge.net] . It lets you do some fantastic scientific visualization and has a neat GUI, too. And oh, you can also do some really cool CFD stuff with it. Check out the screenshots [sourceforge.net] .

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:3D-Accelerated Rendering? (2, Informative)

hkfczrqj (671146) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950157)

I know MayaVi, it's a very cool package, but I wasn't been able to run it before. I should try again.

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...)

Re:3D-Accelerated Rendering? (2, Informative)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950351)

VTK is amazing and can be used in conjunction with other toolkits, such as ITK, to produce visualization for specific purposes. (ITK was designed for medical work, for example.) Other great visualization tolkits are OpenDX, GGobi, Ballview, ChomboVis and Fityk. This is something that is badly needed, if the number of toolkits is anything to go by. 3D FFTs are often closely associated with scientific visualization, but I've only found one package (P3DFFT) that supports it.

Re:3D-Accelerated Rendering? (1)

klk206 (266743) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950045)

Dude, it does support 3D-accelerated rendering.

The REAL question... (2, Funny)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | more than 7 years ago | (#18949889)

Can it process the number 09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0?

Re:The REAL question... (0, Troll)

iggymanz (596061) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950027)

that should go on Jack Valenti's tombstone

For some reason... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18950213)

It seems to crash and display a DMCA notice. What the hell is a "processing key" anyhow?

Re:The REAL question... (0, Redundant)

aysa (452184) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950323)

Yes, but it is time bombed, it can process it only 09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0 times.

Re:The REAL question... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18950467)

http://www.09f911029d74e35bd84156c5635688c0.com/ [09f911029d...5688c0.com] has been taken down - we'll never be able to access the list of places where the number 09F911029D74E35BD84156C5635688C0 can be used. Who knows what 09F911029D74E35BD84156C5635688C0 means and if it can be used for any purpose? Somebody out there is trying to cover it up - but I think we can find the smoking gun.

Interesting (1)

Romwell (873455) | more than 7 years ago | (#18949893)

I hope this one is faster than Mathematica 5. Also they finally seem to be able to handle graphics fast, and added sliders so that you don't have to recompute. Overall, seems to kick Maple's ass =)

competition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18949915)

How does it compare to software like Matlab and Maple?

Re:competition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18950023)

MATLAB and Mathematica really aren't competitors. Mathematica is a computer algebra system meaning it can do all sorts of mathematical tasks, symbolically. MATLAB is built more for obtaining numerical results, especially involving large sets of data. I use both.

Re:competition (1)

alamandrax (692121) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950209)

for your matlab needs, may i present to you Scilab [slashdot.org] . they even seem to have their version of Simulink going. pretty impressive. gotta try it out.

Re:competition (1)

alamandrax (692121) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950235)

ooops. I meant Scilab [scilab.org] .

Front-end changes? (1)

hkfczrqj (671146) | more than 7 years ago | (#18949943)

Quick question... after reading their PR stuff I still wonder:

Does it still use those ugly, outdated widgets in the front-end? /Yes, I run it in Linux

Re:Front-end changes? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18950173)

No, the version 6 Linux/Unix front end widget set is based on Qt, so it's supposed to look better and be more easily customizable.

Cost (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 7 years ago | (#18949979)

It still costs a bazillion dollars, which puts it far out of reach of the average person.

Re:Cost (2, Informative)

ficken (807392) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950005)

If you are a student, Wolfram offers some pretty decent site-licensing deals with educational institutions. (Consult your local higher ed facility)

Re:Cost (1)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950379)

I would say so! I got it as a free download.

Cost-Those who can? Do! Those who can't complain. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18950265)

"It still costs a bazillion dollars, which puts it far out of reach of the average person."

Cost is irrelevent if one lacks the knowledge to make use of such a tool. Those who need it can afford it.

Re:Cost-Those who can? Do! Those who can't complai (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18950677)

You've got a mind like a steel trap, inflexible and rusty.

Re:Cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18950285)

not if you can find the .torrent!

No one in their right mind buys this stuff for personal/non-profit/hobbyist/school use.

Same goes for autocad, photoshop, maya. They should take a cue from MS and start charging just an arm for their software, instead of an arm _and_ a leg.

Where the slashvertisement tag? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18950011)

Come on, people. This looks like slashvertising if I've seen it...

I'm torn... (5, Informative)

kebes (861706) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950025)

Mathematica is an absolutely fantastic package. The symbol manipulation (derivaties, integration, etc.) are outstanding, the graphing is rich (though the options are obscure), and the data-manipulation is great. It's a very useful tool when doing serious engineering and science, plus it's fun to play around with.

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:I'm torn... (2, Informative)

wall0159 (881759) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950089)


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/) - it looks pretty cool.

I use Protools, too, for music recording - don't even get me started on that ;-)

Re:I'm torn... (1)

kebes (861706) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950175)

For Matlab code, there is Octave [gnu.org] , which is an open-source implementation of the Matlab syntax. However, it is only a partial implementation, and I've had mixed results trying to run Matlab code in Octave. (But it's usually worth a try!)

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

Thanks!

Re:I'm torn... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18950255)

Check out SAGE. SciPy is available as an optional package in SAGE and can be installed with one command. They work very well together since they're both in Python. I think SAGE uses Numpy for its default numerical linear algebra. In addition, SAGE provides a nice interface to Octave, an open-source MATLAB replacement.

http://www.sagemath.org/ [sagemath.org]

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

Quarters (18322) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950091)

What part of your problem would've been fixed if it had been open source, all other things being equal? Was your problem the licensing, the inferior Linux performance, or the fact that it would only reprocess workbooks? How would it being open source have fixed any of that? Even if it being OSS just meant that there was no licensing scheme that is only 1/3 of your listed problems (at best). Given that you were in such a hurry and that the code to do what Mathematica does is probably extremely complex I doubt you would've edited the code to fix problems #2 or #3. So, how exactly would OSS have helped you?

Re:I'm torn... (1)

kebes (861706) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950165)

The licensing was the annoying part. If it were not for the licensing, I could have discovered the incompatibility with Linux within 5 minutes, and switch to OS X right away. I could have re-run the code and been done with what I needed to do within an hour, instead of the many days that it took instead.

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 worth noting that if it were fully open-source, it would probably have been properly repacked for my Linux distro of choice. Being open-source is no guarantee of compatibility with OS variants, but it sure helps.

Re:I'm torn... (1)

twistedcubic (577194) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950217)

Well, after hearing stories about Mathematica and Matlab, here's the Maple story. I purchased Maple 6.0 in 2001 (I think). The retail box has a penguin on the outside. Nevertheless, it took a week of calls to Maple to get the license for Linux set up. Less than a year later, I replaced a broken CD ROM drive and upgraded the RAM. Oops! License is no good. So I call again, and again. Finally got someone to mail licenses to me, and after none of the licenses based on my "hardware profile" work, they FINALLY send me a machine-neutral license that works to this day. Waste of my time for $140 software. Should have been using open software. Also, the programming syntax changes from version to version, and not in trivial ways. Porting anything complex is hard. The last time I used Mathematica was version 1.0 on NeXT, which was kinda buggy, but pretty cool. I hated that all the commands started with a capital letter. I don't know anyone who uses it today. Everybody either uses Matlab or more specialized math software.

Re:I'm torn... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18950103)

Ever heard of..VMware?

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

Somnus (46089) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950227)

There is also a serious scientific issue in using closed-source software for data analysis or theoretical calculations. All scientific work should be transparent to review and reproducible, from first principles, in order to find validate any findings. A black box code is antithetical to this principle.

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

Re:I'm torn... (1)

Trelane (16124) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950345)

A black box code is antithetical to this principle. True, that. Plus, when I called them on the phone to ask about updates, they asked me to verify that I had run into an issue before they would tell me if there were any pending bugfixes.

Re:I'm torn... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950405)

As far as I know, the language is well specified. Including 'Obtain or implement a version of Mathematica' isn't all that far off from 'Build a Hubble telescope' or 'Build a tens of millions of dollars super collider'.

Re:I'm torn... (1)

Somnus (46089) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950825)

No.

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 their algorithms, but they do not distribute their codes for examination by others.

Re:I'm torn... (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950239)

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 geek that's associated with Mathematica, I've never given it a spin, because of the cost. I'll bet there are a lot of people out there like me. And of course there are a lot of people like you, who fell in love with it as a professional user or a student, but fell out of love when they had to deal with all the BS Wolfram imposes on its users.

Too bad really. This is a product that could have a lot of mind share and had a positive impact on software practice. But SW was just too shortsighted.

Re:I'm torn... (1)

Trelane (16124) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950363)

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

Re:I'm torn... (1)

dal20402 (895630) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950633)

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... (4, Informative)

Trelane (16124) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950305)

which changes with each new hardware installation.

More than that: it changes with network device configuration. If your wireless card changes, or you insert a new one, or they get renamed or 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 me $40 all 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".

This, however, is only slightly less annoying than Matlab, which requires the effing documentation CD to be mounted in order for it to run thanks to craptastic gaming CD checking technologies. I've not bought 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 their licensing 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:I'm torn... (1)

nu-gundam (999099) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950711)

I'm looking into Maple (can anyone tell me what their licensing scam looks like?) I have been using Maple 10 for about a year now and I have switched network device on two occasions. Each time I had to email Maple customer service to reactivate it. While it's a bit bothersome however I didn't really mind since the process was fairly quick and painless.

Re:I'm torn... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18950347)

At work I have a site license for Mathematica, but the license coordinator is always MIA. I solved most of the license problems by calling up Wolfram and asking them to re-email the license info to the coordinator. Wolfram tech support is quite a friendly bunch.

If I need the license right away and I can't wait either for Wolfram and/or the license coordinator to get the license, until I get the official license, I use the trusty mathematica keygen available somewhere on the web. Don't know if the old keygen works for 6 (works for 4 and 5).

Besides the license-type, (educational, full, etc) the license seems to be ethernet-card MAC dependent. If I remember correctly, on the same machine running two different OSes, I used the same license.

Re:I'm torn... (1)

radtea (464814) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950471)

in Linux it won't open unless you enter the code, which changes with each new hardware installation

Mathematica 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 a hassle, particularly as I use it only now-and-then to do the heavy algebraic lifting during the exploration phase of a new project. That, and the fact that anything I write in Mathematica is going to require I always have a copy available, doesn't make it a good choice for serious scientific work.

I love the program--the consistency of syntax and naming means I can reasonably guess everything from function names to arguments most of the time, and it is nice to have every special function known to man at my fingertips, and even nicer to know that I haven't dropped a sign in the derivation of equation 13 that will induce me to waste two years performing the wrong experiment (I've seen this happen). But at the end of the day it is a proprietary language with no free/open implementation (think R/S or Matlab/Octave). And that isn't something that is ever going to completely suit the needs of a working scientist.

Re:I'm torn... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18950665)

Yeah. Cause every piece of OSS runs right away. No fiddling w/ compiler switches, no library incompatibilities, great documentation. Yup, it's that evil commercial software that is so difficult to use.

Student scam.... (2, Informative)

Trelane (16124) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950061)

I see that the student license still goes away when you graduate. Yuck.

Re:Student scam.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18950119)

It's like free Lexis and Westlaw for law students - addict them early and often, then make them pay through the nose.

Re:Student scam.... (4, Funny)

ultracool (883965) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950565)

It's easy to get around that. Just do a PhD.

Re:Student scam.... (1)

Trelane (16124) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950627)

I don't see a special situation when you get a PhD. (Please tell me if there is one I missed, because it might be good for me to just, ehm, know...)

Re:Student scam.... (1)

ultracool (883965) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950793)

I'm saying if you are reaching the end of your undergraduate degree, then do a PhD. It will take a long time to complete, during which time you can have a student copy of Mathematica. Of course, a decent university department should provide you with it if you need it anyway.

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

Re:Student scam.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18950845)

when you get a PhD.

Clearly you are not a grad student...

Can't anyone create a GNU version of Mathematica (5, Interesting)

moly (947040) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950151)

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[], a nine-character entry for an operation that a real mathematician may use a few hundred times in a given program. At least Mathematica is smart enough to use T (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.

Re:Can't anyone create a GNU version of Mathematic (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950257)

"Why can't the FOSS community beat Wolfram at this?"

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.

Re:Can't anyone create a GNU version of Mathematic (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950357)

Sigh, it's not that at all.

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

Re:Can't anyone create a GNU version of Mathematic (1)

stoev (103408) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950447)

Also the number of people who are able to contribute significantly to such project is very limited. This is on the border of several areas - pure abstract mathematics, computer science and engineering. How many qualified LISP programmers you can find nearby? How many of them are also good at abstract algebra? Very few such people exist in the world, partially because mathematicians tend to hate computer tools in their abstract work. That's why most of the CAS systems were created by physicists in response to their practical needs.

Apart from Maxima, which is free software, if somebody wants to contribute, please have a look also at Axiom CAS http://savannah.nongnu.org/projects/axiom [nongnu.org] , which IMHO gives a very nice and strict approach.
Another C++ based project is GiNaC http://www.ginac.de/ [ginac.de]

Re:Can't anyone create a GNU version of Mathematic (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950381)

Is $1000 actually expensive? I can imagine that reproducing Mathematica in a months time would be a bit of a trick, so for an individual, maybe it isn't that expensive. If someone who makes a decent US salary used a license for a couple of years, it would only have to save them a couple of weeks to be worth it(so it could increase their productivity by ~1% and be a net win).

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, but the notion that hundreds of dollars for software is always unreasonable(it may not ever be preferable...) is a bit tiresome.

Re:Can't anyone create a GNU version of Mathematic (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950619)

When I checked the price, it was $2500. To many people, that's a lot of money.

Re:Can't anyone create a GNU version of Mathematic (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950807)

Yeah, it's a lot of money. It's way more money than I would spend to 'have it around', but if I was doing stuff that made me think "Gee, if only I had Mathematica" almost everyday, I would give it some serious thought. I just don't see any reason to focus(so much) on the fact that the scarcity is artificial when the value is often astronomical.

Re:Can't anyone create a GNU version of Mathematic (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950675)

Points taken. However, the student version of Mathematica is "only" $150, not $250 USD, (for the 5.x versions, anyway) and it isn't crippled in any way except for the printing of "Mathematica for Students" when one prints a notebook. ALL of the functionality of the full professional version was there. Of course, I don't know (yet) about this new 6.0 version.

10=09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0 (-1, Redundant)

RiskyChris (999242) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950153)

Can it simulate base 09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0 ?

The first 10 digits of pi in this base (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18950229)

In[1]:= RealDigits[Pi, 13256278887989457651018865901401704640, 10]

Out[1]= {{3, 1876991704476780800150180628325083636,
          9189391413076810481201219232926836119,
          5384063602086586924188333802024283231,
          2513453230179012144646634684477494849,
          3068214336797764299997264261540154903,
          10748763127124397137593816210347368190,
          4318173104433516756252170067941446829,
          5632687311927575967371556397320072633,
          3878443159091356825173975449160258985}, 1}

Too bad it's not GPL (1)

argoff (142580) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950159)

title says it all.

Vista (0, Redundant)

badc0ffee (969714) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950191)

But will it run in Vista? Front page, Yes. That ought to sell a few copies.

000010011111100100010001000000101001110101110100 1110001101011011 11011000010000010101011011000101011000110101011010 00100011000000

Best thing is buried in there.... (2, Interesting)

Trelane (16124) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950197)

In the list of new features (gotta go find the full list), you find
  • QT-based window interface on Unix and Linux.
  • New antialiased fonts for Linux.

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

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

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18950201)

I hope they fixed the horrible bugs with the exponential integrals. IIRC this one was completely wrong

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?

Re:I hope they fixed Ei and E_n (1)

Ed Pegg (613755) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950331)

Integrate[Exp[-a*x + I*b*x]/(x^2 + y^2), {x, 0, Infinity}] // InputForm gives If[Im[b] + Re[a] > 0 && (Re[y^2] >= 0 || Im[y^2] != 0), (Sqrt[y^(-2)]*(2*CosIntegral[(a - I*b)/Sqrt[y^(-2)]]*Sin[(a - I*b)*Sqrt[y^(-2)]*y^2] + Cos[(a - I*b)*Sqrt[y^(-2)]*y^2]*(Pi - 2*SinIntegral[(a - I*b)/Sqrt[y^(-2)]])))/2, Integrate[E^(-(a*x) + I*b*x)/(x^2 + y^2), {x, 0, Infinity}, Assumptions -> Re[a] -Im[b] && Im[y^2] == 0 && Re[y^2] 0)]] Do you want to add any assumptions? What answer are you expecting?

Made by Wolfram ... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18950215)

and Hart?! I always knew maths was evil.

Mathematica very frustrating (4, Interesting)

Goonie (8651) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950237)

Mathematica can be a very cool tool, but also an incredibly frustrating one, because there are many occasions where you can't use its results.

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.

Addition (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18950243)

Yeah, but can it add 13,256,278,887,989,457,651,018,865,901,401,704,639 + 1?

#i8C.trolltalk.com (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18950309)

*BSD is dying Yet To k?eep up as

Open source systems are out there, too (4, Informative)

starseeker (141897) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950341)

While you're checking out Mathematica, consider taking a look at the major open source computer algebra projects:

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.)

Re:Open source systems are out there, too (1)

digitalhermit (113459) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950399)

I'd also like to mention the R project and Octave. Though I use maybe 1% of what these tools (including Maxima) can do, they have helped immensely in both work and personal projects. I strongly believe that computer algebra tools help with understanding mathematics and wish they were available to me when I was in school.

Re:Open source systems are out there, too (1)

starseeker (141897) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950437)

Definitely seconded, although the focus of those projects is not symbolic computation per-say. Both R and Octave are very good tools - R is an industrial strength statistical environment (it probably has the most active user base of any of these projects - certainly its contributed materials are formidable) and Octave tends more toward numerical computation.

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

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

The illegal SVG vector paths! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18950375)

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  </g>
</svg>

Re:The illegal SVG vector paths! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18950689)

Doh, wrong story, please mod -R -1 ../The illegal SVG vector paths!/ or rm -R ../The illegal SVG vector paths!/

MOD DOWN - GOATSE PIC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18950819)

I just spent 30 minutes trying to find/download/compile a working linux svg viewer just to be greeted by the site of the goatse man's gaping asshole?! thanks a lot cocksucker. I hope you get raped by the GNAA.

Demonstration project (1)

Repton (60818) | more than 7 years ago | (#18950583)

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 else clicking on doors and seeing where the prize is. Hello? This is flash, it's already interactive! Gah..

Re:Demonstration project (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18950815)

Well, surely Flash does not have computational power of Mathematica. Do you expect them to save all the possible computational paths to a single Flash file? OK. The example you chose may be unfortunately easy one. But, even simpler one like showing a graph of sin(a x), where a is interactively changing from 1 to 10, what do you expect Flash do?
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