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stoolpigeon writes "The O'Reilly School of Technology is teaming up with Wolfram Research to provide on-line math courses using an AJAX version of Mathematica. O'Reilly has posted an and interview with Scott Gray, the director of OST, that has more details on the program (named Hilbert after David Hilbert) itself as well as the classes they will be offering."

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Is my documentation worthless? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22493374)

I would hope that the AJAX version would allow one to continue to use the same documentation. When I had to start using Mathematica for my courses, I invested in Boccara's Essentials of Mathematica [amazon.com], but I would hope to see that superseded.

Q. Will the Web 2.0 version of Mathematica be very different from the desktop software?

Scott: It will have extremely high fidelity with the Mathematica software. The only difference will be that users will be reading, typing and executing commands on a web page version that connects to a server via AJAX. Mathematica output is rendered real-time via AJAX and CSS.

Re:Is my documentation worthless? (3, Interesting)

I am so not impressed by this.. the self-styled "kernel" that actually does anything in Mathematica is already a separate executable, and there are multiple open source frontends to the mathematica kernel. So basically they're just using ol CGI to access the kernel and making some javascript frontend that does the exact same thing as existing frontends, but in a browser..

Re:Is my documentation worthless? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22497438)

The front end for Mathematica 6 is way more powerful (and interactive) than the front end for Mathematica 5 was.

Re:Is my documentation worthless? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22493480)

Oops, that should read, "I would hate to see that superseded". Well, TFA does state that it "will emulate the desktop version of the software with remarkable fidelity.", so perhaps the documentation would carry over from desktop 6.0.

Re:Is my documentation worthless? (2, Informative)

When I had to start using Mathematica for my courses,....

Had to, or were too lazy to go without?

Mathematica is a blight upon the scientific world. The price is outrageous, the code is closed source and the learning curve never stops rising. The thing is like some kind of religious oracle; arcane, totally inscrutable, and regarded by almost everyone as infallible. Did I mention the price?

It would be nice to see an open source, scrutable and affordable counterpart to Mathematica. Something like GNU Octave is to Matlab. Looks like it's never going to happen though. Maxima, Sage and Axiom all fail to make the grade, and have infuriating names besides. The situation is less and less likely to change as people who "have" to use Mathematica in their courses keep entrenching the thing deeper and deeper.

Did I mention the price?

Re:Is my documentation worthless? (3, Interesting)

Maxima, Sage and Axiom all fail to make the grade, and have infuriating names besides.

Could you elaborate a bit more on hwo you feel Sage "fails to make the grade"? We are definitely interested in feedback to help improve things.

That being said, I think a lot of it is really dependent on the type of math you are interested in doing. For me personally, using Mathematica would be a waste of my time while I've been able to be pretty productive using Sage.

Re:Is my documentation worthless? (2, Interesting)

What do you feel is the best alternative to Mathematica?

Re:Is my documentation worthless? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22497036)

Maxima. In conjunction with gnuplot. It does everything I needed Mathmatica for, and it's easier for me to export stuff to eps and include in my LaTeX formatted homework.

Re:Is my documentation worthless? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501930)

What's easier than the "Save As TeX" menu item in Mathematica that generates the EPS for every image automatically at the same time as the TeX?

I for one haven't heard the term, "AJAX", nearly enough.

Well, that's because AJAX is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sautee it. There's, um, AJAX kebabs, AJAX creole, AJAX gumbo, pan fried, deep fried, stir fried. There's pineapple AJAX and lemon AJAX, coconut AJAX, pepper AJAX, AJAX soup, AJAX stew, AJAX salad, AJAX and potatoes, AJAX burger, AJAX sandwich... That's, that's about it.

You mean Matlab isn't considered the best?
I kid, I kid.

Kid you may, but Mathematica is a computer algebra system, which means its good at manipulating symbolic mathematics. Matlab is primarily used for vector/matrix manipulation and is more engineering-oriented. I wish people would realize that in spite of the many commonalities (including the prefix "Mat"), they are different products with different uses and audiences.

Kid you may, but Mathematica is a computer algebra system, which means its good at manipulating symbolic mathematics.

Of course, MATLAB has the Symbolic Math Toolbox [mathworks.com] , which "includes the most recent computational kernel from Waterloo Maple Software, Maple 10", thereby completing the Matlab/Maple/Mathematica circle of confusion.

I wish people would realize that in spite of the many commonalities (including the prefix "Mat"), they are different products with different uses and audiences.

In fact "MATLAB" comes from MATrix LABoratory. Nothing to do with mathematics (semantically).

Re:Matlab (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22503912)

'Mat' in 'Mathematica isn't a prefix [wikipedia.org] .
Sorry, sorry I couldn't help myself.

Mathematica and Matlab do two different things. Mathematica seems to be more geared towards... algebra. Matlab has a symbolic toolbox, but it's not what it primarily does.

Matlab lets you process lots of large matricies. Simulink for hardware in the loop and other development work is great./Disclaimer: I work with Matlab/Simulink daily.

Re:Matlab (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22502134)

Mathematica handles numeric matrices every bit as large and every bit as fast as Matlab. Matlab is essentially a subset of Mathematica, but it does have toolboxes to add some of the functionality of Mathematica and some tooboxes with extra functions that Mathematica does not have.

But what, exactly, is that saying? (4, Insightful)

I dunno. I've used Mathematica since it was beta -- no, really, I knew one of the founders at one point -- and it is certainly very interesting, and undoubtably very useful in the educational setting.

But I found when working on the algebra/calculus problems you might find in a bit of cutting-edge physical-science research, it wasn't all that helpful. If I didn't have a pretty good idea where I was trying to go -- e.g. how this algebra should reduce, or what this integral should be, or how this function should behave -- then Mathematica would often either (1) grind to a halt, or (2) give me a horrible multipage expression that defied any kind of gestalt understanding. And, of course, if I did know pretty well where I was going to go, then it was usually faster and somewhat more illuminating to do it myself on paper. What Mathematica ended up doing for me, and this is nothing to sneeze at, is checking my algebra and math, making sure I hadn't added 1 and 1 and gotten 11, that kind of thing.

My feeling is that Mathematica is great for educational stuff, and useful for quick and simple calculations where you pretty much know the answer but don't want to do invest the time it would take to work it out on paper (and you'll instantly recognize whether the result is what it should be), and generally useful for checking your math. But as a serious tool to do difficult math for you with useful results -- I would say it hasn't worked out so well. There's some curious facet of human intelligence that it lacks, some ability to grasp the essentials of a mathematical expression or process that it doesn't have. I admit I can't defined what "the essentials" of a piece of math are, but I can tell when I understand them and when I don't, and probably anyone who's worked with a lot of complex math can, too. (Indeed, I suspect the truly brilliant at math are those who can grasp these mysterious essentials faster and with more clarity than the rest of us.)

I'm not trying to diss Mathematica per se; it's a substantial accomplishment. But like most of Wolfram's stuff, it falls a smidgen short of being the Singularity-enabling tool its most rabid fans seem to think it is.

Re:But what, exactly, is that saying? (3, Interesting)

I used both significantly, and while you can kinda do more or less the same thing with both platforms, each has their place and I would hate to do some things on one that are trivial on the other. I've also been a Mathematica user since beta, but unfortunately this was at the very end of my college career.

Mathematica really isn't set up for in the loop type operations or engineering design (for mortal engineers), but it can be done with effort. That effort is a bit more than the $6k for the equivalent matlab/toolbox licenses. OTH, trying to find the closed form solution to many problems can be done with symbolic toolbox in Matlab, but it's just so much better with Mathematica and less expensive.

The new front end with 6.0 goes a long way to eliminating many of Mathematica's shortcomings in these respects, but I think it's mostly just the framework for much better things to come...I'm hoping.

Mortals but not apes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22508416)

I used both too (robotics, control loops, firmware, RK4 sim), and this comment is silly. CAS is crap for "in the loop" operation, which by definition, means hardware. You're hammering with a screwdriver.

LabVIEW RT? VxWorks? RTOS? Even embedded Linux maybe. But not MATLAB. I think you're a victim of MATLAB/Simulink salesmen telling you that CAS is for HiL sims when it's not. You're better off writing FORTRAN that talks to your hardware.

For pure sims (zero h/w) it's another story. CAS can do that. Mathematica has new FEA meshing btw, some Runge-Kutta helper routines, and quaternions and interval math. There is also GPL Scicos for feedback control system design from the great INRIA folks.

Mathematica may have more use for some folks than for others

Unquestionably. I was just a wee bit disappointed in how much good it was in heavily mathematical (but not mathematics) research. It doesn't replace the graduate student, it turns out.

I've been making an effort to use Sage in place of Mathematica lately and so far I'm impressed. Although, right now I prefer using the CLI rather than the web interface.

Actually, it's an AJ interface. Nobody actually uses XML. I think it's great -- of course, I'm one of the primary developers, so I've made it work pretty much how I like it. There are still some issues with it, but it's well over a year old, and pretty stable at this point. During the joint AMA/AMS meeting in San Diego, Eric Wesstein came up to the Sage booth, and said that he'd copied a bunch of stuff from Sage when he was working on the Combinatorica package. Now, it looks like they've copied a bunch of my ideas, too!

I think this is a beautiful thing. When William Stein started Sage, he wanted to beat Magma. Soon thereafter, he decided that he'd need to catch up to Mathematica. Now, less than 3 years later, they're racing to catch up to us...

What a great use of time. Hey! Check this out! I've got AJAX for Mathematica!

Did you solve the DNA sequence issue?

No. But I just spent all this time porting an application to the web!

Re:Are you kidding? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22493494)

A small number times several hundred thousand, ends up very beneficial.

Not that I even know what "the DNA sequence issue" is, nor whether this guy is the best to tackle it... I was under the impression that there are a lot more than one.

What a great use of time. Hey! Check this out! I've got AJAX for Mathematica!....But I just spent all this time porting an application to the web!

The reason why this is more than just another stupid AJAX port of a desktop app is that it allows for things like very, very easy supercomputing capabilities to be built into Mathematica -- just upload your notebook and let Wolfram's cluster crunch it for you. No munging with parallelization, or setting up and maintaining the hardware. Some other benefits (depending on point of view) of the AJAX port:

Sell you a super-expensive license to use this super-charged, supercomputing version of Mathematica that runs on Wolfram's cluster. Trust me, a lot of computations in Mathematica take a very long time. If your computations are wearing down your laptop, simply pay $1000, upload your notebook and have your answer in no time.

No need to worry about grad students downloading pirated versions of Mathematica

Software updates are made seamlessly and instantly

Never worry about notebook backups, allows for collaboration a la Google docs

Or, you could use a computer algebra system [sagemath.org] which has easy-to-use distributed computation [sagemath.org] built in already. Oh, did I mention, it's open source, so every single point above (with possible exception of software updates) is completely invalidated?

I'm just giving you a hard time. Actually, I've recently started using SAGE and I admit that it's very impressive for its age. I've been using Mathematica for nearly a decade and used Matlab extensively for my graduate research, but SAGE may end up replacing both for my projects.

So a gutless coward labels me as a Troll? F*** Y**. Wolfram if he values himself should do the world a favor and do something for Science that progresses the system forward. AJAX? Give me a f***ing break. If Javascript was so f***ing cool then why did we spit on it for years when Netscape tried to make it cool?

I love AJAX. Seriously, I think it's great stuff, and it's fun to program. But why do some projects have this overwhelming desire to tout AJAX as the "ZOMG IT MAKE OUR PRODUCT ELEVENTY BILLION TIMES BETTER!!" tag with items like this?

What are the other improvements coming about with Mathematica? What about bugfixes? Wouldn't those be more important than "Oooooh, look, the page is more responsive now!"

I love AJAX too. It's the only thing that gets those pesky sweat stains out after long hours of developing asynchronous web applications. It also works well for getting rid of Java.

Re:Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22497962)

That might work with Java, but it would just anger a Python.;)

A group of computational mathematicians have named something after Hilbert? Shocking and newsworthy!
Now, I'm off to take an erdos--it's gauss o'clock already, and I'm still wearing my eulers.

The open source mathematic software compendium Sage already has something similar that you can test right away in SageNB [sagenb.org] . Interestingly, one of the possible backends is Mathematica.

Hilbert shmilbert (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22494882)

I am having the proofs that I am knowing who this fine chappie is. However this margin is too ruddy small to be contai

2 comments... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22495216)

A) If they have a bunch of students actually checking the output, maybe now Mathematica will put out some correct answers. Stephen found yet another way to get free QA instead of using his customers for it.

B) Free supercomputing is right...you'll need that just to render a cube in 3D. I can't begin to comprehend how they're going to pass the bloated graphics from the kernel through the web interface. Right now just rendering around 50K polygons will bring most machines to their knees (both through intense ram usage and cpu usage).

(And yes I'm a coward, I'm under NDA from the evil overlord of Wolfram).

The marketing meeting parody almost writes itself: "Guys, how can we possibly make our slow, bloated software even slower and even more bloated while making it buzzword-compliant?"

AJAX isn't as quick as a native front end, but an AJAX front end onto a massive backend would, in this case at least, be a lot faster than a native front end onto your home PC.

Axiom and maxima both work fine for me. Admittedly, I don't use them for much more than the occasional nasty integral.

Wolfram is evil. I once bought a copy of the mac version of Mathematica from them, to run on MacOS 6, IIRC. When I upgraded to MacOS 7, it stopped working. Called Wolfram, they said I should pay for a new version of Mathematica.

Re:axiom and maxima work fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22497506)

You got that upgrade to MacOS 7 free right? You didn't? Oh...

Mma = Lisp, MATLAB = FORTRAN, SAGE = Python (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22499362)

If you like Lisp you like Mathematica. If you like FORTRAN you like MATLAB. If you like Python you like SAGE.

MATLAB is not, repeat not, better at numerics. Not since ancient times. What lowered performance was a linked-list implementation that went away long ago. Here's a Cal Tech CS prof comparing the languages. And he hates Wolfram! http://lambda-the-ultimate.org/node/2220#comment-33430 [lambda-the-ultimate.org]

Now SAGE is interesting. It bundles Maxima, a weaker old-style Lisp, with Python, a friendly yet dumbed-down language. Python numerics teams spent ~8 years doing arrays, over and over, and are still not done. I don't even track it any more - NumPy? NumericalPython? Whatever. They won't even let you define irregular arrays. And Guido avoids anything functional because he can't understand it.

To each his own, but functional code matches math best. Everyone knows this, and Guido is not trying to build a math language, so it's not his problem.

SAGE does the kitchen-sink approach with Python glue. They take GPL libs from everywhere and stick em together. Well, good on them. Open source needs this.

But compared to Mathematica they are not there yet. In certain sub modules they have world class algorithms. What SAGE lacks interactive typesetting and overall integration. Python and old-style Lisp is not a marriage made in heaven. SAGE also needs to implement typesetting the way Mathematica does it - not post-processing, but real typeset interaction. I am cheering for them but..still being rational about software choice.

When I can look at SAGE notebooks that have typeset code for both input and output AND that use a better functional language than Python or Maxima, I will switch to SAGE.

Mma = Application IDE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22499576)

The new Mathematica with all the dynamic interface stuff lets you ship programs to non-owners. The free player contains a full working kernel to run your apps. It's nice when things *can* run in a browser but not everything can. AFAICT the player just doesn't create code.

Too bad for those who must, by some reason, use Mathematica... It is probably the biggest mystery of a software of all times, for instance, the code syntax used are unique to Mathematica and a complete mess, it doesn't make sense at all and reminds me of no other language. Wolfram Is also the evil empire I have heard, treating their customers incredibly inappropriate. I used Mathematica for a project... I ended up wanted to smash my keyboard mainy due to the idiotic-style coding and the general moron-behavior of Mathematica's front end... then I tried Maple - and since then I'll never touch Mathematica again. Avoid Mathematica at all cost - use Maple or some free alternative.

There are easier to develop and maintain environements out there than multi-language ones. Believe me, I've going through the grief. This is a rapidly evolving field.

Anyone recall the unethical crap from Wolfram? (1)

Am I the only one who recalls the unethical crap we all had to put up with from Wolfram publishing?

1. I buy their software, and pay for overnight S/H. I get it, and it needs to be activated - not by web, but by a human on the phone - before it can be used. This takes 2 weeks due to some overseas holiday I've never heard of.

2. I set up a web site complaining, and they send phony DMCA take-down notices, saying that I'm distributing pirated versions of their software.

3. Wolfram has been proven to have sent many, many phony DMCA take-down notices against anyone who criticized their favorite senator, Orin Hatch. This is the same Orin Hatch that wants a chip (fuse) in your PC that Wolfram can blow to permanently ruin it if they don't like you. No due process would apply.

If you do business with Wolfram, you are no better than IBM doing business with NAZI Germany.

Andy

Re:Anyone recall the unethical crap from Wolfram? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22508762)

Yes, you are. When was that, and what Pacific island did you live on? WRI uses email, they've *never* asked me to call. Premium support is slow but not ordering.

Years back teams of database gurus reengineered the ordering system. Maybe you got in the middle of all that.

I view Wolfram like Apple. Apple is one of the nastiest companies - way more nasty than Microsoft. They sue everyone in sight for minor infractions like icon colors. ThinkSecret went down lately. Everyone goes down. And OS X is just *nix with desktop-GL and vendor lockin gimmicks like - no ext3. But people still love the products and pay the luxury tax.

## Is my documentation worthless? (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22493374)

I would hope that the AJAX version would allow one to continue to use the same documentation. When I had to start using Mathematica for my courses, I invested in Boccara's

Essentials of Mathematica [amazon.com], but I would hope to see that superseded.## Re:Is my documentation worthless? (1)

## milsoRgen (1016505) | more than 6 years ago | (#22493422)

Scott: It will have extremely high fidelity with the Mathematica software. The only difference will be that users will be reading, typing and executing commands on a web page version that connects to a server via AJAX. Mathematica output is rendered real-time via AJAX and CSS.

## Re:Is my documentation worthless? (3, Interesting)

## Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22493794)

multipleopen source frontends to the mathematica kernel. So basically they're just using ol CGI to access the kernel and making some javascript frontend that does the exact same thing as existing frontends, but in a browser..## Re:Is my documentation worthless? (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22497438)

## Re:Is my documentation worthless? (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22493480)

Oops, that should read, "I would

hateto see that superseded". Well, TFA does state that it "will emulate the desktop version of the software with remarkable fidelity.", so perhaps the documentation would carry over from desktop 6.0.## Re:Is my documentation worthless? (2, Informative)

## ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 6 years ago | (#22495414)

Had to, or were too lazy to go without?

Mathematica is a blight upon the scientific world. The price is outrageous, the code is closed source and the learning curve never stops rising. The thing is like some kind of religious oracle; arcane, totally inscrutable, and regarded by almost everyone as infallible. Did I mention the price?

It would be nice to see an open source, scrutable and affordable counterpart to Mathematica. Something like GNU Octave is to Matlab. Looks like it's never going to happen though. Maxima, Sage and Axiom all fail to make the grade, and have infuriating names besides. The situation is less and less likely to change as people who "have" to use Mathematica in their courses keep entrenching the thing deeper and deeper.

Did I mention the price?

## Re:Is my documentation worthless? (3, Interesting)

## mhansen444 (1200253) | more than 6 years ago | (#22495976)

Could you elaborate a bit more on hwo you feel Sage "fails to make the grade"? We are definitely interested in feedback to help improve things.

That being said, I think a lot of it is really dependent on the type of math you are interested in doing. For me personally, using Mathematica would be a waste of my time while I've been able to be pretty productive using Sage.

## Re:Is my documentation worthless? (2, Interesting)

## ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501516)

I find it difficult to adequately express just how asinine this requirement is. And I'm a mathematician!

Sage is to Maxima is to Mathematica as Vim is to Emacs is to Word. I'm an Emacs fan myself.

## Re:Is my documentation worthless? (1)

## pbaer (833011) | more than 6 years ago | (#22496810)

## Re:Is my documentation worthless? (1, Interesting)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22497036)

## Re:Is my documentation worthless? (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501930)

## Re:Is my documentation worthless? (1)

## WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 6 years ago | (#22508036)

## XMLHttpRequest (2, Funny)

## milsoRgen (1016505) | more than 6 years ago | (#22493376)

## Re:XMLHttpRequest (2, Funny)

## turgid (580780) | more than 6 years ago | (#22495374)

Open fire! All weapons. Send out rocket AJAX to bring back his body.

## Re:XMLHttpRequest (1)

## finiteSet (834891) | more than 6 years ago | (#22497970)

## Awesome (4, Insightful)

## riceboy50 (631755) | more than 6 years ago | (#22493378)

## Re:Awesome (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22497896)

Okay, I give. What's a calculator?

## Matlab (0, Flamebait)

## esocid (946821) | more than 6 years ago | (#22493394)

I kid, I kid.

## Re:Matlab (2, Funny)

## Thelasko (1196535) | more than 6 years ago | (#22493462)

## Re:Matlab (1)

## ThinkingInBinary (899485) | more than 6 years ago | (#22494164)

You mean:

right? This is AJAX!

## Re:Matlab (1)

## foniksonik (573572) | more than 6 years ago | (#22503000)

a) document.write("I knew there had to be a MATLAB joke in there somewhere

");

b) window.document.body.append("I knew there had to be a MATLAB joke in there somewhere

");

c) console.log("I knew there had to be a MATLAB joke in there somewhere

");

with (b) being the best corollary... an alert() is by far the worst option

## Re:Matlab (5, Informative)

## caffeinemessiah (918089) | more than 6 years ago | (#22493542)

Kid you may, but Mathematica is a

computer algebrasystem, which means its good at manipulating symbolic mathematics. Matlab is primarily used for vector/matrix manipulation and is more engineering-oriented. I wish people would realize that in spite of the many commonalities (including the prefix "Mat"), they are different products with different uses and audiences.## Re:Matlab (2)

## Mike1024 (184871) | more than 6 years ago | (#22495168)

Of course, MATLAB has the Symbolic Math Toolbox [mathworks.com] , which

"includes the most recent computational kernel from Waterloo Maple Software, Maple 10", thereby completing the Matlab/Maple/Mathematica circle of confusion.## Re:Matlab (1)

## amolapacificapaloma (1000830) | more than 6 years ago | (#22500738)

## Re:Matlab (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22503912)

## Re:Matlab (1)

## 0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 6 years ago | (#22494158)

Matlab lets you process lots of large matricies. Simulink for hardware in the loop and other development work is great.

## Re:Matlab (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22502134)

Matlab is essentially a subset of Mathematica, but it does have toolboxes to add some of the functionality of Mathematica and some tooboxes with extra functions that Mathematica does not have.

## But what, exactly, is that saying? (4, Insightful)

## Quadraginta (902985) | more than 6 years ago | (#22494962)

But I found when working on the algebra/calculus problems you might find in a bit of cutting-edge physical-science research, it wasn't all that helpful. If I didn't have a pretty good idea where I was trying to go -- e.g. how this algebra should reduce, or what this integral should be, or how this function should behave -- then Mathematica would often either (1) grind to a halt, or (2) give me a horrible multipage expression that defied any kind of

gestaltunderstanding. And, of course, if Ididknow pretty well where I was going to go, then it was usually faster and somewhat more illuminating to do it myself on paper. What Mathematica ended up doing for me, and this is nothing to sneeze at, is checking my algebra and math, making sure I hadn't added 1 and 1 and gotten 11, that kind of thing.My feeling is that Mathematica is great for educational stuff, and useful for quick and simple calculations where you pretty much know the answer but don't want to do invest the time it would take to work it out on paper (and you'll instantly recognize whether the result is what it should be), and generally useful for checking your math. But as a serious tool to do difficult math for you with useful results -- I would say it hasn't worked out so well. There's some curious facet of human intelligence that it lacks, some ability to grasp the essentials of a mathematical expression or process that it doesn't have. I admit I can't defined what "the essentials" of a piece of math are, but I can tell when I understand them and when I don't, and probably anyone who's worked with a lot of complex math can, too. (Indeed, I suspect the truly brilliant at math are those who can grasp these mysterious essentials faster and with more clarity than the rest of us.)

I'm not trying to diss Mathematica per se; it's a substantial accomplishment. But like most of Wolfram's stuff, it falls a smidgen short of being the Singularity-enabling tool its most rabid fans seem to think it is.

## Re:But what, exactly, is that saying? (3, Interesting)

## suburbanmediocrity (810207) | more than 6 years ago | (#22495150)

Mathematica really isn't set up for in the loop type operations or engineering design (for mortal engineers), but it can be done with effort. That effort is a bit more than the $6k for the equivalent matlab/toolbox licenses. OTH, trying to find the closed form solution to many problems can be done with symbolic toolbox in Matlab, but it's just so much better with Mathematica and less expensive.

The new front end with 6.0 goes a long way to eliminating many of Mathematica's shortcomings in these respects, but I think it's mostly just the framework for much better things to come...I'm hoping.

## Mortals but not apes (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22508416)

LabVIEW RT? VxWorks? RTOS? Even embedded Linux maybe. But not MATLAB. I think you're a victim of MATLAB/Simulink salesmen telling you that CAS is for HiL sims when it's not. You're better off writing FORTRAN that talks to your hardware.

For pure sims (zero h/w) it's another story. CAS can do that. Mathematica has new FEA meshing btw, some Runge-Kutta helper routines, and quaternions and interval math. There is also GPL Scicos for feedback control system design from the great INRIA folks.

## Re:But what, exactly, is that saying? (1)

## itof500 (239202) | more than 6 years ago | (#22495650)

you might find Howard Gardner's book 'Frames of Mind' interesting. Mathematica may have more use for some folks than for others.

duke out

## Re:But what, exactly, is that saying? (1)

## Quadraginta (902985) | more than 6 years ago | (#22496200)

Mathematica may have more use for some folks than for othersUnquestionably. I was just a wee bit disappointed in how much good it was in heavily mathematical (but not mathematics) research. It doesn't replace the graduate student, it turns out.

## Sage also has a web interface (5, Informative)

## k2enemy (555744) | more than 6 years ago | (#22493412)

I've been making an effort to use Sage in place of Mathematica lately and so far I'm impressed. Although, right now I prefer using the CLI rather than the web interface.

## Re:Sage also has a web interface (5, Informative)

## Garridan (597129) | more than 6 years ago | (#22494118)

I think this is a beautiful thing. When William Stein started Sage, he wanted to beat Magma. Soon thereafter, he decided that he'd need to catch up to Mathematica. Now, less than 3 years later, they're racing to catch up to us...

## Re:Sage also has a web interface (1)

## Digana (1018720) | more than 6 years ago | (#22494786)

## Re:Sage also has a web interface (2, Informative)

## Garridan (597129) | more than 6 years ago | (#22495056)

## Are you kidding? (-1, Troll)

## tyrione (134248) | more than 6 years ago | (#22493432)

What a great use of time. Hey! Check this out! I've got AJAX for Mathematica!

Did you solve the DNA sequence issue?

No. But I just spent all this time porting an application to the web!

## Re:Are you kidding? (-1, Offtopic)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22493494)

Not that I even know what "the DNA sequence issue" is, nor whether this guy is the best to tackle it... I was under the impression that there are a lot more than one.

## Re:Are you kidding? (4, Insightful)

## caffeinemessiah (918089) | more than 6 years ago | (#22493662)

The reason why this is more than just another stupid AJAX port of a desktop app is that it allows for things like

very, veryeasy supercomputing capabilities to be built into Mathematica -- just upload your notebook and let Wolfram's cluster crunch it for you. No munging with parallelization, or setting up and maintaining the hardware. Some other benefits (depending on point of view) of the AJAX port:lotof computations in Mathematica take a very long time. If your computations are wearing down your laptop, simply pay $1000, upload your notebook and have your answer in no time.## Re:Are you kidding? (3, Informative)

## Garridan (597129) | more than 6 years ago | (#22494242)

## Re:Are you kidding? (1)

## Cornelius the Great (555189) | more than 6 years ago | (#22494890)

I'm just giving you a hard time. Actually, I've recently started using SAGE and I admit that it's very impressive for its age. I've been using Mathematica for nearly a decade and used Matlab extensively for my graduate research, but SAGE may end up replacing both for my projects.

Keep up the good work!

## Re:Are you kidding? (2, Funny)

## chakan2 (1106731) | more than 6 years ago | (#22495278)

## Re:Are you kidding? (1)

## tyrione (134248) | more than 5 years ago | (#22552688)

## Hmm... (0, Offtopic)

## Oxy the moron (770724) | more than 6 years ago | (#22493442)

I love AJAX. Seriously, I think it's great stuff, and it's fun to program. But why do some projects have this overwhelming desire to tout AJAX as the "ZOMG IT MAKE OUR PRODUCT ELEVENTY BILLION TIMES BETTER!!" tag with items like this?

What are the other improvements coming about with Mathematica? What about bugfixes? Wouldn't those be more important than "Oooooh, look, the page is more responsive now!"

## Re:Hmm... (4, Funny)

## garett_spencley (193892) | more than 6 years ago | (#22493504)

## Re:Hmm... (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22497962)

## Re:Hmm... (2, Informative)

## stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#22493694)

## Ah, splendid! (4, Funny)

## wattrlz (1162603) | more than 6 years ago | (#22493454)

## Re:Ah, splendid! (1)

## KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22493634)

## Re:Ah, splendid! (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22493692)

## Re:Ah, splendid! (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22499624)

## Re:Ah, splendid! (1)

## themacks (1197889) | more than 6 years ago | (#22494424)

## Hilbert? (1)

## howlingfrog (211151) | more than 6 years ago | (#22493642)

## Re:Hilbert? (1)

## BorgCopyeditor (590345) | more than 6 years ago | (#22495058)

## Re:Hilbert? (1)

## treeves (963993) | more than 6 years ago | (#22497468)

## Ajax was here! (1)

## molex333 (1230136) | more than 6 years ago | (#22493664)

## The Hilbert Program (5, Funny)

## kabloom (755503) | more than 6 years ago | (#22494018)

## Re:The Hilbert Program (2, Funny)

## kalidasa (577403) | more than 6 years ago | (#22498100)

## AJAMathMl ? (1)

## Arthur B. (806360) | more than 6 years ago | (#22494316)

## SageMath (5, Informative)

## pablodiazgutierrez (756813) | more than 6 years ago | (#22494452)

## Hilbert shmilbert (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22494882)

## Re:Hilbert shmilbert (1)

## A.Chwunbee (838021) | more than 6 years ago | (#22494918)

## 2 comments... (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22495216)

A) If they have a bunch of students actually checking the output, maybe now Mathematica will put out some correct answers. Stephen found yet another way to get free QA instead of using his customers for it.

B) Free supercomputing is right...you'll need that just to render a cube in 3D. I can't begin to comprehend how they're going to pass the bloated graphics from the kernel through the web interface. Right now just rendering around 50K polygons will bring most machines to their knees (both through intense ram usage and cpu usage).

(And yes I'm a coward, I'm under NDA from the evil overlord of Wolfram).

## Re:3d cube (1)

## William Stein (259724) | more than 6 years ago | (#22496896)

a 3d cube using the

awesome Jmol library [sourceforge.net] .

## no free beer here (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22495302)

## Parody (5, Funny)

## locokamil (850008) | more than 6 years ago | (#22495344)

## Re:Parody (1)

## Eskarel (565631) | more than 6 years ago | (#22499804)

## axiom and maxima work fine (1)

## bcrowell (177657) | more than 6 years ago | (#22497302)

Axiom and maxima both work fine for me. Admittedly, I don't use them for much more than the occasional nasty integral.

Wolfram is evil. I once bought a copy of the mac version of Mathematica from them, to run on MacOS 6, IIRC. When I upgraded to MacOS 7, it stopped working. Called Wolfram, they said I should pay for a new version of Mathematica.

## Re:axiom and maxima work fine (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22497506)

## Mma = Lisp, MATLAB = FORTRAN, SAGE = Python (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22499362)

MATLAB is not, repeat not, better at numerics. Not since ancient times. What lowered performance was a linked-list implementation that went away long ago. Here's a Cal Tech CS prof comparing the languages. And he hates Wolfram!

http://lambda-the-ultimate.org/node/2220#comment-33430 [lambda-the-ultimate.org]

Now SAGE is interesting. It bundles Maxima, a weaker old-style Lisp, with Python, a friendly yet dumbed-down language. Python numerics teams spent ~8 years doing arrays, over and over, and are still not done. I don't even track it any more - NumPy? NumericalPython? Whatever. They won't even let you define irregular arrays. And Guido avoids anything functional because he can't understand it.

To each his own, but functional code matches math best. Everyone knows this, and Guido is not trying to build a math language, so it's not his problem.

SAGE does the kitchen-sink approach with Python glue. They take GPL libs from everywhere and stick em together. Well, good on them. Open source needs this.

But compared to Mathematica they are not there yet. In certain sub modules they have world class algorithms. What SAGE lacks interactive typesetting and overall integration. Python and old-style Lisp is not a marriage made in heaven. SAGE also needs to implement typesetting the way Mathematica does it - not post-processing, but real typeset interaction. I am cheering for them but..still being rational about software choice.

When I can look at SAGE notebooks that have typeset code for both input and output AND that use a better functional language than Python or Maxima, I will switch to SAGE.

## Mma = Application IDE (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22499576)

## Mathematica suxxor (2, Informative)

## Fred 0101010011 (1181669) | more than 6 years ago | (#22500144)

## obselete: javafx or silverlight better (1)

## peter303 (12292) | more than 6 years ago | (#22503548)

## Anyone recall the unethical crap from Wolfram? (1)

## RecycledElectrons (695206) | more than 6 years ago | (#22503746)

1. I buy their software, and pay for overnight S/H. I get it, and it needs to be activated - not by web, but by a human on the phone - before it can be used. This takes 2 weeks due to some overseas holiday I've never heard of.

2. I set up a web site complaining, and they send phony DMCA take-down notices, saying that I'm distributing pirated versions of their software.

3. Wolfram has been proven to have sent many, many phony DMCA take-down notices against anyone who criticized their favorite senator, Orin Hatch. This is the same Orin Hatch that wants a chip (fuse) in your PC that Wolfram can blow to permanently ruin it if they don't like you. No due process would apply.

If you do business with Wolfram, you are no better than IBM doing business with NAZI Germany.

Andy

## Re:Anyone recall the unethical crap from Wolfram? (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22508762)

Years back teams of database gurus reengineered the ordering system. Maybe you got in the middle of all that.

I view Wolfram like Apple. Apple is one of the nastiest companies - way more nasty than Microsoft. They sue everyone in sight for minor infractions like icon colors. ThinkSecret went down lately. Everyone goes down. And OS X is just *nix with desktop-GL and vendor lockin gimmicks like - no ext3. But people still love the products and pay the luxury tax.