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I feel obliged to defend my use of Mathematica. The obvious reply to the remark that “hey! It’s free” is that sometimes you really do get what you pay for. The density of bugs in Mathematica seems much lower than in the social network packages that I’ve tried. Also, I’ve realized that sadly I’m not as good at writing low level code (say in C) as are the professionals who produce Mathematica (or MatLab for number crunching, SAS for standard statistics). Of course, it all comes down to your own personal needs and preferences, but here is what I like about Mathematica. Tell me you’re not blown away by the following video:

 

http://www.wolfram.com/broadcast/screencasts/introducingmathematica7/

 

Mathematica has many graph theoretic graphing and analysis functions. E.g. here are just the GraphData functions and predicates starting with the letter “a”:

Acyclic, AdjacencyMatrix, AllImages, AllVertexCoordinates, AlternateNames, AlternateStandardNames, AlternateVertexCoordinates, Andrasfai, AntelopesTour, Antiprism, Apollonian, Archimedean, ArchimedeanDual, ArcTransitive, ArcTransitivity, ArticulationVertices, Asymmetric, AutomorphismCount, Automorphisms.

All are computed with the best known algorithms.

 

Like many  program Mathematica can do numerical integration, but it also does symbolic integration. For example, a problem from Ramanujan' s notebooks can be solved with the input,

Integrate[Log[(1 + Sqrt[1 + 4 x])/2]/x, {x, 0, 1}]

giving the exact, symbolic answer, Pi^2/15.

Finally, Mathematica because it takes me out of the narrow confines of social networks and into the world of real math and science. It makes me learn something new every time I use it. What is life about except growth?

 

John Boyd


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