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Re: Book or Manual for 6?

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  • Subject: [mg78276] Re: Book or Manual for 6?
  • From: "David Park" <djmpark at>
  • Date: Wed, 27 Jun 2007 05:32:17 -0400 (EDT)
  • References: <f5qitl$5fs$>

At my age I can sympathize with the established style of reading books. But 
I would like to suggest that you seriously consider getting a nice laptop 
and putting Mathematica on it so you can be with your wife and your dog and 
maybe watch a good movie in the background.

The cold hard cruel fact is that Mathematica Version 6 is almost like a 
whole new program. There is so much new in it that learning the new features 
is equivalent to learning the original Mathematica from scratch. This is 
certainly unfair to people immersed in projects or people who are fairly 
happy with the earlier versions and eager to get on with their research or 
studies. Some of these people should consider staying with Version 5.2 until 
they have time to take on Version 6. I myself am a little chagrined that 
with absorbing a new computer, Version 6 and trying to convert over packages 
I have no time left for doing what I really want to do.

But, Version 6 IS WORTH THE EFFORT. So most of us will just have to bite the 
bullet and go back to school. The consolation is that there is a lot of fun 
and excitement in learning the new features.

As to the lack of a hard copy book: I don't think that a static book is the 
way to learn Mathematica. This is especially so for Version 6 with its 
dynamics and new graphical features. You can't slide a slider bar or punch 
setter buttons in a book. They won't do anything. You can see what 
AutoActive does. A book is unlikely to have the high quality color graphics 
to show opacity and overlays. Nor can you actively interact with the 
graphics. You can't click on a book graphic and select a subpart of the 
graphic and then click again and obtain the points that were used to plot a 
2D curve. Simply reading descriptions of these things is no substitute for 
actually doing them. Hard copy books are truly inadequate for learning the 
new Mathematica. That is probably why there was little effort to produce 
such a book.

People who know me know that I tirelessly argue that Mathematica notebooks, 
if done as a natural extension of a classical technical writing style, are 
orders of magnitude better than printed papers or books. It seems obvious 
and I think that the designers of Mathematica notebooks had such a style in 
mind from the beginning. But it is very difficult to convince many people of 

The Documentation Center has a 'New in Version 6' subsection for each of its 
major groupings. The Dynamics Section is all new. Going to those sections, 
finding the new or changed commands, typing them into your own practice 
notebook and trying a few variations is the best and only way to learn the 
new commands. Alas, it takes time.

David Park
djmpark at

"AES" <siegman at> wrote in message 
news:f5qitl$5fs$1 at
> As a long time 5.2 user, I want a *book* or a *manual* about 6
> -- one that will, at a minimum, list and explain and describe the
> changes and new features in 6 relative to 5
> --one that I can read, in the evening, in the living room with wife and
> dog, not back at the monitor on my desk, all by myself
> --one that I can turn pages back and forth in, and occasionally
> highlight or turn down a page corner, not have to "navigate" through by
> endlessly clicking links back forth (ever hear of anyone "navigating" a
> novel, or a biography?)
> Is such available?  To my amazement, a search for "Mathematica 6" on
> amazon brought up nothing to buy; and a search on the Wolfram web sites
> brought up no manual or users guide that I could download *in one shot*,
> and then take down to Kinko's to get printed (as I've done with more
> than one on-line application manual in recent years).

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