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MathGroup Archive 1998

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Re: Year 2000 and Mathematica



At 04:53 PM 1/20/98 -0500, BRagsdale wrote:
>Is Mathematica 3.0 year 2000 compliant?


Here is a Press Release that Wolfram sent out several months ago. Other
Press Releases can be found at http://www.wolfram.com/news/


*******

Leading Math Software Undaunted by the Coming Year 2000 Or Even Two
 Billion

Computer industry experts predict dire consequences at the beginning of
the year 2000, when many computer programs are expected to lose their
ability to manipulate and calculate dates properly, fatally confused by
the change of century. Projections of the problem's impact on business,
including a recent cover story in Newsweek magazine, range from the
grim to the cataclysmic. The only pleasant prospect is for computer
programmers, many of whom may need to be hired for emergency software
repairs.

However, the million scientists, engineers, educators and students who
use Wolfram Research's Mathematica, the leading technical computing
system, have nothing to fear as January 1, 2000, approaches.

"We have thought a little further ahead," said Wolfram Research
President/CEO Stephen Wolfram, who earned a doctorate in theoretical
physics from Caltech at age twenty. "Mathematica stores dates and
performs calendrical calculations using an arbitrary-precision
mixed-radix representation that avoids the Year 2000  problem
completely. We don't anticipate any problems with our calendar
algorithms until a considerable time after the sun has burned itself
out."

"For example," Wolfram explained, "according to Mathematica the year Two
Billion AD begins on a Saturday, barring any intervening modification
to the calendar. There is also a more general result, which says that
any year AD which is a multiple of 2000 also begins on a Saturday. That
will always allow an extra working weekend for programmers who don't
use our product."

The Year 2000 question is only the most visible example of a larger
problem concerning how computers treat numbers. Nearly all software
which handles numbers makes certain assumptions about each number's
size. This means that date calculations are not the only ones subject
to potential "numerical overflow."

Imagine a business, for example, wanting to make a half-million dollar
sale to Russia. At current exchange rates, the number of rubles in a
half million dollars is very close to overflowing the range of the
32-bit signed integer, a very common data size.

Mathematica, however, is not bound by the limitations of fixed-size
integer representation. The same precise number-handling capability
used by the calendar routines also allow it to multiply numbers with
hundreds of digits without the danger of numerical overflow.

Wolfram Research is the world's leading developer of technical computing
software. The company was founded by Stephen Wolfram in 1987 and
released the first version of its flagship product, Mathematica, on
June 23, 1988. Mathematica, the world's only fully integrated technical
computing system, is relied on today by more than a million users
worldwide in industry, government, and education. Mathematica 3.0 was
released in the fall of 1996. Wolfram Research, Inc. is headquartered
in Champaign, Illinois.



Brett H. Barnhart
Business Development
Wolfram Research
100 Trade Center Dr
Champaign, Il 61820
217-398-0700 ext 523
217-398-0747 (fax)
brettb@wolfram.com
http://www.wolfram.com/~brettb

*Check out our 1998 Mathematica User Conference at
http://www.wolfram.com/conference98



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