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MathGroup Archive 2007

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Re: Re: Any Mathematica 6 book yet?

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg81543] Re: [mg81497] Re: Any Mathematica 6 book yet?
  • From: Murray Eisenberg <murray at math.umass.edu>
  • Date: Wed, 26 Sep 2007 21:45:39 -0400 (EDT)
  • Organization: Mathematics & Statistics, Univ. of Mass./Amherst
  • References: <200709261035.GAA06256@smc.vnet.net>
  • Reply-to: murray at math.umass.edu

I'm not sure a book or two will suffice to overcome this difficulty.

The surest way to get engineers and scientists to use a "new" tool such 
as Mathematica is to train the next generation to use it and wait for 
the old generation to die off.  But then the problem becomes how to get 
just enough far-sighted individuals (such as ourselves, naturally) to 
teach the new tool, often against the opposition of the faculty in 
client departments or of our own colleagues.

I suspect the important factor will not be any books about Mathematica 
itself, but rather subject-specific textbooks that happen to use 
Mathematica in an essential and integrated manner and whose content is 
so compelling as to make them irresistible to adoption.

Familiarity with an old tool is something really hard to dislodge as the 
supreme motivating factor.

I sometimes find it utterly amazing how deeply some mathematicians, 
scientists, or engineers believe that Mathematica is deficient in being 
handle this or that kind of problem (typically said about numerics, but 
sometime about graphics, too).

Folks can make up all sorts of rationalizations to excuse their not 
taking the time to learn something new.  And if you try to show them 
that a particular rationalization, or misconception, is wrong, they just 
repeat or invent another.

AES wrote:
> AES wrote:
>    
>>   In article <fd7s0t$ceh$1 at smc.vnet.net>,
>>   Murray Eisenberg <murray at math.umass.edu> wrote:
>>
>>>   Or as least work with some inside authors.
>>>
>>>   I believe that part of the early success of Mathematica was 
>>>   Wolfram's carefully seeding the marketplace with encouragement, if 
>>>   not actual support, of a number of books about it.
> 
> 
> Absolutely agreed.
> 
> And failing to do so this time around will cost them -- especially when 
> combined with the comparatively high price and the perceived complexity 
> of Mathematica.
> 
> I interact with a *lot* of engineering and science students and 
> professional researchers, and attempt to promote Mathematica as much as 
> I can, out of my own self interest in being able to work in it and 
> communicate with others about it as much as anything else.
> 
> The response, from a very substantial majority I would say, is that they 
> are already familiar with other competitive products that they have 
> encountered in their various classes, and see no reason to change.
> 

-- 
Murray Eisenberg                     murray at math.umass.edu
Mathematics & Statistics Dept.
Lederle Graduate Research Tower      phone 413 549-1020 (H)
University of Massachusetts                413 545-2859 (W)
710 North Pleasant Street            fax   413 545-1801
Amherst, MA 01003-9305


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