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Mathematica 7 features significant evolutionary changes: with over 500 new functionalities, this is about as complete a package as you could want.

Mathematica is too much of an old friend to say anything besides singing its praises. It never ceases to amaze just how much evolutionary progress can be made in even a short time. Many of these new features may never be used by most analysts, hut others are a welcome addition to the specialist. In this editor's case, the genomic data access was a really nice surprise! Now onto the particulars ...

New in version 7

Table 1 presents just an overview of Mathematica's 500 new functionalities. The details may be found at www.wolfram.comlpreductslmathematica/newin7. System requirements are noted in Table 2. As to system space/memory requirements, the bigger the better. The company recommends 1.5 GB of HD space (if loading from a disk, or 3 GB for a download) and at least 256 MB of RAM (but 1GB or more would be highly recommended).

Documentation

As with most programs these days, the trend is to go electronic. Thus, there are no paper manuals. I have consulted my Mathematica 5 manual until it's falling apart and still have not fully appreciated the search function under Help. The Documentation Center is helpful, however, and is less consulted with experience in the areas of interest. It is logically arranged, and the novice need not spend too much time drilling down to the needed areas.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

Main screens

Figure 1 is a partial screen shot of my startup screen. It includes the menu bar, the notebook area and four palettes: Algebraic Manipulation, Basic Math Assistant, Basic Math and Basic Typesetting. The notebook is the basic work area and the assistants greatly simplify the typing tasks (for those of us who hate typing!). The Documentation Center of the Welcome screen will quickly become the close friend of new users. For the more adept, this screen is easily suppressed.

A mathematical/graphics tour

As to the heart of the matter--Mathematica does Mathematics!--all kinds and in excruciating detail if need be. As an example, let's take a very brief tour through some commands and their execution. Given in Figures 2 through 4 is a notebook page showing simple commands to evaluate numbers, integrate functions, do a 2-D plot, a contour plot and a more complex parametric plot.

This is meant to give you a flavor of Mathematica's high level programming language and the way it is used, as opposed to what it can do (as that's just about anything these days). My calculations are usually in the areas of simple algebra, calculus and ordinary differential equations and utilize less than 0.001 percent of Mathematica's potential.

[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]

[FIGURE 3 OMITTED]

[FIGURE 4 OMITTED]

Beginner features specific to Mathematica

Novices should know a bit about the little quirks peculiar to the software. Mathematica functions start with capital letters and enclose their arguments in square brackets. Curly braces are used to hold data ranges and options and are separated by commas. To execute commands, the user presses Shift+Enter and the I/O is displayed in its own cell.

There are numerous helps available, including the Documentation Center (thousands of pages of manuals), the Function Navigator, the Learning Center, and two really nifty shortcuts to get information on the fly. By highlighting any function name and hitting the F1 key, the documentation to that function appears. By merely preceding the function name by a "?" and executing, examples of usage appear.

To "appropriate" someone else's code or already completed applet, the Demonstration Projects section online is a treasure trove.

Summary

For the mathematician and student, this software has all the old capabilities, but it is bulked up after each upgrade (as expected). However, for the scientist, it now has computable data bases to assist in their respective disciplines. For the engineers, it is a complete programming/computational/graphics system to make project integration a snap. In order to disseminate the projects to colleagues without Mathematica, there is a Player application so that users can visualize anything done by the analyst. Student editions are reasonably priced and, for heavy duty mathematics, this is about as complete a package as you could want.

Availability

* $2,495 professional

* $1,095 academic

* $139.95 student

Wolfram Research 100 Trade Center Drive Champaign, IL 61820-7237 1-800-965-3726 (U.S./Canada only) 1-217-398-0700; Fax: 1-217-398-0747 www.wolfram.com

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John A. Wass, Ph.D.

John Wass is a statistician based in Chicago, IL. He may be reached at editor@ScientificComputing.com.
TABLE 1

New in Mathematica 7

* New Generation of Digital Processing & Analysis

* Built-in Parallel Computing

* Automated Charting Graphics

* New Graphics Primitives

* Automatically Optimized Vector & Field Visualization

* Comprehensive Spline Support

* New Visualization & Graphics Functions

* High-Performance Boolean Computation

* Transcendental Roots

* New Number Theory Capabilities

* Discrete Symbolic Calculus

* Delay Differential Equations

* Finite Group Theory

* Enhanced Fourier Analysis

* Integer Sequence Analysis

* Computable Data

** Integrated Genomics & Protein

** Weather

** Geodesy & GIS

** Astronomy

** Chemistry

** Financial

** Particle

* Statistical Model Analysis

* Automatic Histogram Generation

* Sequence Alignment & Analysis

* Speech Output

* Enhanced Typesetting Automation

* Quick-Start Assistant Palettes

* Interface Elements

TABLE 2

System Requirements

Version 7 runs on the following platforms

MICROSOFT WINDOWS

Windows Vista 32-bit, 64-bit
Windows XP 32-bit, 64-bit
Windows Sewer 2008 04-bit
Windows Sewer 2003 32-bit, 64-bit
Windows Compute
Cluster Sewer 2003 64-bit
Windows 2000 32-bit

APPLE MACINTOSH

Mac OS X 10.5 Intel 32-bit, 64-bit
Mac OS X 10.5 PPC 32-bit*
Mac 0S X 10.4 Intel 32-bit, 64-bit**
Mac 0S X 10.4 PPC 32-bit*

* Also runs on 64-bit PPC hardware.

** 64 bit support requires 0S X 10.4.10.

LINUX x86

Linux 2.4 or later 32-bit, 04-bit

Mathematica 7 has been fully tested on all major Linux
distributions based on the 2.4 Linux kernel, On newer kinux
distributions, additional compatibility libraries may need to be
installed.

SUN SOLARIS

Solaris 10 x86 64-bit
Solaris 10 UltraSPARC 64-bit
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Author:Wass, John A.
Publication:Scientific Computing
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2009
Words:967
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