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How long does technical support take?

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg62109] How long does technical support take?
  • From: John Sidles <sidles at>
  • Date: Fri, 11 Nov 2005 02:52:41 -0500 (EST)
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

Dear Mathgroup folks

Once a week I send a message to Technical support like this:

 > Dear Mathematica support
 > It is now one month with no substantial help regarding request
 > [TS 28968] Mathematica SingularValueDecomposition failure.
 > Please send a status report soon, addressing:
 > (a) Have you reproduced this bug?
 > (b) Do you know a workaround at present?
 > (c) If no workaround is known, when will one be available?
 > If none of the above can be answered, please reply estimating
 > when *any* substantial reply will be forthcoming.  This is
 > a serious bug that is obstructing a large research program.
 > Thank you for your (hoped for) customer support.
 >     Sincerely
 >     John Sidles, Professor
 >     UW School of Medicine
 >     UW Quantum System Engineering Group
 >     ( )

Within a day or two, I receive this reply, which never varies:

 > We wanted to let you know that we have received your email and
 > that we're working on answering your query as quickly as possible.

 > For questions such as these, we often rely on the expertise of
 > our development team for help. As soon as we have more concrete
 > information on your request, we'll contact you again.

 > Thank you for your continued patience.

The irritative thing is, this reply is completely non-responsive,
and it promises action at a vague future date that never seems to
arrive.  Since it never varies, it seems originate from an automated
script, and not a real person; no real person would be so obtuse!

I polled my colleagues at the Institute for Mathematical Analysis,
and many of them have also experienced sporadic problems with singular
value decomposition, not only in Mathematica, but in other analysis
packages too.

What these packages have in common is, they are all based on LAPACK.
What my colleagues think is, the bug may be in the LAPACK code itself.

We'd be very happy to help Wolfram Research track this bug down, but
we hope for some reciprocal respect from Wolfram Research, in the form
responsive replies to bug reports.

I regret to say that many of my colleagues have simply given up filing
bug reports, for reasons that must be pretty obvious.  In the long run,
this can only reduce the quality of Wolfram products, IMHO.

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