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MathGroup Archive 1999

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Re: Can't find the Mathematica bug list...

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg19354] Re: Can't find the Mathematica bug list...
  • From: "P.J. Hinton" <paulh at wolfram.com>
  • Date: Fri, 20 Aug 1999 23:09:34 -0400
  • Organization: "Wolfram Research, Inc."
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at wolfram.com

On Mon, 16 Aug 1999 Didier Pieroux <dpieroux at ulb.ac.be> wrote:

> I have been trying to find a Mathematica bug list without any success. 
> Does such a list exist somewhere ?  I can't imagine it doesn't exist...
> 
> However, *if* Wolfram Research policy is to keep this list private
> (contrary to what they claim on their web), how do you do practically to
> check first that a bug you find is already well known or not ? 

The best resources you have for verifying the existence of a bug are the
product documentation and the Technical Support department.  If the
behavior you observe does not match its description in _The Mathematica
Book_, you may want to review the Technical Support FAQ website to see if
there are additional notes.  If you do not find any information that
indicates you are experiencing a known problem, you are encouraged to
contact Technical Support directly.

Wolfram Research is very proud of its efforts to ensure high-quality
software.  We channel a substantial amount of resources toward eliminating
problems, when they do arise.  We have a very systematic and exhaustive
process for tracking the instances of bugs from their detection to their
resolution.

Isolating and identifying a bug is more difficult than you first might
imagine.  First, the questionable result must be described in a precise
manner.  The user inputs that resulted in the problem must be recorded
so that it may be reproduced.  Then the input and result must be 
compared with documented behavior to see if there is a disagreement.
If the behavior is determined to be incorrect, the actual root of 
the problem must be found.  In many instances, the cause turns out
to be something that may seem totally unrelated.

Most of the information gathered by our tracking efforts would not aid the
user in being more effective with Mathematica.  If this information were
to be presented in its entirety as the principal means by which an end
user could identify problems, the user would find the process to be
tedious and counterproductive.

On the other hand, our online documentation both in the Help Browser
and on the web have plenty of cross-references to aid you in locating
useful information.  The Technical Support FAQ pages on known problems 
are phrased in terms of symptoms that a user is most likely to observe.  
The Technical Support webpages are also keyword searchable.  

We realize that some users may not find the current organization of
information on our FAQ pages to be the most useful.  If you have
suggestions on how we might improve things, you are welcome to send them
directly to the Technical Support department.  Wolfram Research Quality
Assurance is working on a website that will provide more information on
the Mathematica quality assurance process.  The pages will be announced to
MathGroup when they are ready.

Getting the most out of software isn't much different from using other
products and services.  Suppose you purchase a major appliance.  Soon
afterwards, you find that when you try to use a certain feature on it, the
feature does not function as you expected.  An effective start to
resolving the problem is to look over the appliance's manual to determine
if you used it the right way.  If, after following the instructions, you
find that the feature still does not work, you might call a repair person
to see if he or she could find a defect.  On the other hand, contacting a
governmental safety agency requesting a list of all product recalls for
your particular brand of appliance may result in some information, but it
isn't any more likely to bring you closer to resolving the problem.

Here are some URLs that you may find to be useful in getting answers
to your questions.

o Technical Support FAQ Website

	http://support.wolfram.com/

A text field is located at the base of the page for searching the FAQ
collection.

o Technical Support Contact Information

	http://www.wolfram.com/services/techsupport/contact.html
	http://www.wolfram.com/services/techsupport/Hints.html

o Mathematica Documentation Center

	http://documents.wolfram.com/

--
P.J. Hinton
Mathematica Programming Group           paulh at wolfram.com
Wolfram Research, Inc.






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