Re: How should I start with mathematica?

*To*: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net*Subject*: [mg85412] Re: How should I start with mathematica?*From*: David Bailey <dave at Remove_Thisdbailey.co.uk>*Date*: Sun, 10 Feb 2008 05:08:32 -0500 (EST)*References*: <fobjom$mqj$1@smc.vnet.net> <foekpa$ieq$1@smc.vnet.net>

David Park wrote: > 1) Go to Help, Documentation Center, and read and type. Especially Core > Language, Mathematics and Algorithms, Visualization and Graphics. > > 2) Actually type in the Help commands in your own notebook, try variations > that you can think of, and make sure they work. > > 3) Pay special attention to the Functional Programming commands. Just keep > pushing the envelop. > > 4) In graphics don't overlook the use of graphics options, which at first > may seem complicated and confusing. > > 5) Take the time to learn the syntax and basic commands before undertaking a > major project. Then try to use Mathematica 'flying solo' on simple topics > you already know the answer to. > > 6) Use MathGroup. There are NO silly questions. Silly people wouldn't even > use Mathematica in the first place. Mathematica is complex enough that > nobody knows everything about it and everybody deserves help. > > 7) Learn how to use the sectional organization of notebooks and learn > especially the use of Text cells to document and explain what you are doing. > Text cells are almost as important as Input/Output cells. > > 8) As you become more advanced try to develop and calculate everything > actively within Mathematica. Write the definitions you need and use them. > You will have to do this. Everything that might be convenient for your work > will not be directly in Mathematica. This requires some effort but the > payoff is enormous in terms of understanding, consistency and self-proofing. > > 9) Try not to think of Mathematica as just a 'super calculator' or as a > 'programming language'. And especially don't waste time trying to morph > Mathematica into some other programming language. Think of a Mathematica > notebook as a piece of paper on which you are writing and developing your > technical ideas. Once you become resonable proficient with Mathematica you > can think in terms of your subject matter and not in terms of computer > science. We have already paid WRI good money to do the computer science. > > 10) So this is what I wish for you: when you click the Mathematica icon it > will be just like when Euler reached for pen and paper. Maybe even better. > > I would just like to add a couple of suggestions to David's excellent list. As you may be aware, prior to version 6, Mathematica used to come with a notoriously thick book. If you can get hold of a copy of one of these books - say for version 5 - read it. All the basic operations are the same except that some new functions have been added. The graphics and frontend programming have changed somewhat, however, as have the built-in packages. Someone here (I wish I could remember their name) wrote a program to stitch together the 6.0 documentation into a version of this tome - if you can get hold of that, it would certainly be useful. Learning Mathematica is a bit like learning a language - reading other people's code is essential. At first, other people's code can seem very daunting indeed (some of it remains that way :) ). One useful way to explore other people's code is to click on a part of an expression, and press control-. one or more times. This progressively expands the selection to cover mathematically meaningful portions of the code (try it first on a few simple expressions of your own - or something from the documentation. Picking portions of code and testing what they do in isolation can be a great way to get into otherwise obscure code. David Bailey http://www.dbaileyconsultancy.co.uk