Mathematica v3.0

 in
Instead of having various packages or tools for a variety of mathematical functions, Wolfram has integrated them all into one package.
More Advanced Computations

One of the major parts of one math course I took was power series. One such equation done with Mathematica is shown in Figures 4 through 6.

Figure 4. Differential Equations

Figure 5. Integration

Figure 6. Graphical

This is just the tip of the iceberg in regard to the many mathematical equations you can perform with Mathematica. You can also program Button Boxes to perform specific actions when you click on them. This option enables you to create interactive worksheets (see Figure 7). Other capabilities include sound, animation and transforming input files (such as an image file) or external sounds. Mathematica's language can be used to read in files, output to files, read directory contents (explicitly and type-globbing), change to a different working directory and delete files, all of which I found to be quite useful. Any programmer will appreciate the Mathematica feature that converts a Mathematica expression to a C or FORTRAN expression—an extremely useful feature (Figure 8).

Figure 7. Worksheet

Figure 8. Conversion to C and FORTRAN

External Functions

Mathematica has an external function which converts Mathematica worksheets to HTML or TeX.

I tested the HTML conversion, and it basically produced an HTML document with links to images containing all of the worksheet contents, both text and graphics (see Listing 1). Output from Mathematica can be sent to an external file, or one file can be combined (spliced) with another. External commands can be launched from Mathematica, e.g., to start Netscape or any one of the various word processing packages.

Conclusion

Mathematica is an excellent tool with limitless features. I was impressed at how smoothly it ran with both Netscape and StarOffice running at the same time. I truly wish this had been available when I was in school, not only because it is available for Linux, but because of all the useful features and the fun I have using it. I like the flexible language Mathematica uses, and the documentation is excellent. I found The Mathematica Book to be full of great examples and explanations on usage. Best of all, it runs on Linux and takes full advantage of Linux's speed, both in computations and graphics rendering.

Users of this product could be engineers, scientists, chemists, teachers, students and general math enthusiasts. I highly recommend Mathematica to anyone who is involved in the sciences. This is one tool you will always find invaluable, and it is well worth the price.

Patrick Galbraith currently works as a senior software developer for the Cobalt Group in Seattle, WA (http://www.cobaltgroup.com/), developing automotive web sites using Linux/Perl/Oracle. He also consults with Horvitz Newspapers, his previous employer, publisher of local area newspapers including Eastside Journal, South County Journal and Tennessee-based The Daily Times (http://www.eastsidejournal.com/, http://www.southcountyjournal.com/, http://www.thedailytimes.com/). The rest of his time is spent doing yard work, cooking, hiking, tweaking his Linux system, and reading slashdot.org.

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