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MathGroup Archive 1995

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Re: Performance of student version of Mathematica?

  • To: mathgroup at christensen.cybernetics.net
  • Subject: [mg685] Re: Performance of student version of Mathematica?
  • From: jburne at connix.com (John Burnette)
  • Date: 9 Apr 1995 22:51:06 -0400

In article <3m9jek$fmt at news0.cybernetics.net>,
Roger Frederi Clark <helios at strauss.udel.edu> wrote:
>I was curious about this possibility also, so I contacted the 
>info at wri.com and here's what they said.  The student version will not use 
>a math coprocessor, even if present.  THe rep said that this makes 
>little difference for normal calculations, but for large data 
>sets, numerical calculations, or intensive graphics work, it translates into 
       ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>about 4 times slower.  Unfortunately, this is what I use Mathematica for, 

etc etc...

Hello? Gee, unless you want to do something UNUSUAL like NUMERICAL 
CALCULATIONS...(And what kind of mathematica user would have that in
mind....) And compare the native code version of mathematica running on a 
powerpc macintosh to a student version running under 68040 emulation on 
the same computer.  That is NOT a 4 times slower. Wolfram's OWN 
ADVERTISING gives numbers like 17 seconds versus 109 seconds (on a Quadra 
700, presumably running an enhanced version...) For those with a new 
PowerMac check out the sample software from Wolfram on the CD sampler.

Questions for WOLFRAM rep...(surly mode on...)

1) Will there ever be a native (student) version of Mathematica for the 
   powerpc.  Hypothetically, if there was no MacIntosh for sale powered 
   by something other than a power-pc would this be a factor in your 
   policy, or should we just be thankful that Mathematica wasn't first
   created in the 8088 era?
2) What will happen to the current user base when OS for Mac and INTEL 
   computers become multi-tasking? (Both mac and windows claim that is 
   coming within the next year.) Will you slip code into student version 
   which checks to see if there is a session already running? Is that code 
   already there?

As an aside, I have been using Mathematica while teaching my high school 
math (and computing) courses since 1988-89. I am the leading proponent of 
increasing computer use, specifically Mathematica, at my current school - 
Choate Rosemary Hall. While visiting Middlesex academy for a school 
recertification visit last week, I noticed that Mathematica was installed 
but virtually unused on their computers. (Note of interest, Middlesex and 
Choate have both been listed in ads from Wolfram..)

I am becoming the math department chair at a third school, Kinkaid in 
Houston Texas.  I would very much like to continue working with 
Mathematica there, but there is no way I will pay more than $200 per 
license and, on principle, no way I would purchase any mathematics 
software which has intentionally been crippled so as not to make use of 
either an advanced processor or an FPU. Honestly, the only way I would 
recommend purchasing Mathematica would be to purchase used NeXT 
workstations which include an academic license.

Wolfram must realize that they have almost ZERO penetration of the 
(fairly) large high school market.  I firmly believe that their bottom 
line would be increased significantly if they came out with a 
"Mathematica lite" version which used a kernal which actually fits onto a 
8 meg computer. Provide the full processing speed and let the schools 
purchase more libraries as they decide they need them.

As for me, MathCad is offered for $49 with the Maple libraries. I don't 
want to learn a new environment, but I suppose it isn't out of the 
question either. It's too bad. I've carried a torch for Mathematica for a 
very long time.



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