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Mathematica 6 isn’t just for mathematicians. Scientists (including chemists) will find Mathematica’s graphical abilities vital to research.
The latest upgrade to the popular math application Mathematica makes your data dynamic. From high-end number theory (there are more than 20 new functions for computations in algebraic number fields) to chemistry (3D graphics of chemical compounds can be turned and viewed from all angles), Mathematica 6 creates 3D graphics and lets you manipulate any parameter with any remote control, including gamepad controllers.
The new Manipulate function allows you to dynamically change specified parameters, giving insight into the dependencies of different parts of the computation. Mathematica 6 also includes large collections of data in math, physics, chemistry, astronomy, geography, linguistics, and finance. With these data, a teacher can make plots of chemical properties, word trees, or maps of countries color-coded by population.
For those looking to have some fun with Mathematica (math and fun? You better believe it!), version 6 has some new possibilities. Coding is supported, including a debugger with a step-through function and the ability to set arbitrary break points. The new CurrentValue function can check where your mouse is, what buttons are being pushed, how many mouse clicks there have been, low-level data on the states of all controllers, and any other current value of a specified item in the Mathematica system and interface.
Despite - or perhaps because of - all these advances, Mathematica 6 is still complicated and difficult to master. To help, Wolfram Research offers classes (both in person and online) to teach you how to use the app. In Mathematica 6 itself, warnings of possible syntactic errors follow you as you type, and error messages appear for incorrect inputs - though the messages don’t explain how to correct your work.
The bottom line. Wolfram Research has reinvented Mathematica to the benefit of math geeks of all stripes. Mathematica 6 has an amazing variety of ways to interact with graphs, matrices, and data.
COMPANY: Wolfram Research
PRICE: $2,495, $1,095 academic list price, or $139.95 student version
REQUIREMENTS: G4 or faster or Intel processor, Mac OS 10.3 or later
Lets math geeks and other smarties manipulate data in ways that allow new insight and imagination. Universal binary.
Requires complicated programming-like input that can take time to master.