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Major problem with

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg89347] Major problem with
  • From: "Michael Morrison" <morrison at>
  • Date: Sat, 7 Jun 2008 02:51:36 -0400 (EDT)
  • Organization: University of Oklahoma
  • Reply-to: <morrison at>

Very recent I upgraded from to I have found this latest
version of Mathematica almost totally dysfunctional. Now when I load
notebooks that previously worked fine, almost invariably I get one or more
messages warning of an error as a result of an internal self-check. (I've
never seen such messages with earlier versions.) The messages send me to a
Wolfram site that solicits details about my problem, which I provide, but
which doesn't explain the message, the problem or how to deal with it. The
site says that the problem may not affect the execution of my notebook or
results. But something is affecting execution of a lot of my notebooks!
Since installing, notebooks that used to run fine now cause
Mathematica to crash (!)---a problem I have not had since about version 4.
Even when that doesn't happen, trying to run a notebook typically generates
still more of these irritating self-check errors. I have tried everything I
can think of to ensure that the problem is not with my PC (cleaned the
registry, various internal maintenance checks, even defragmented by hard
disc, etc.) No improvement or change. Moreover, the problems appear on a
second PC I use where I loaded a couple of hours ago. 

I've sent urgent pleas for help to the appropriate Wolfram site but so far
have received no reply. (I'm facing an urgent deadline in about 8 hours and
am suddenly unable to do anything until this problem gets fixed, since most
of my notebooks won't execute any more or will do so only amidst a blizzard
of errors.) If anyone can offer constructive advice I would be most
grateful. I'm running on a conventional Windows XP machine.

I feel compelled to add that this is only the latest (and by far most
severe) problem I've had since the release of Version 6. I've used
Mathematica since about version 2 (very primitive  non-GUI interface, very
limited help info, couldn't evaluate every integral known to man
correctly---but it did what you told it to almost always correctly, and it
rarely crashed). Every subsequent version through 5 improved the product,
eliminated errors, enhanced usability, and maintained the high standards of
reliability and freedom from bugs that has made Mathematica the choice of a
lot of scientists and teachers, including those at my institution. 

Then came 6.  Bugs all over the place. Commands that don't work even in the
help browser (try TableAlignments in TableForm).  A new help browser in
which a search now provides reams of links somewhere in which you might find
buried the information you want. Unless the information you need isn't
there: So far as I can figure out, it's still not possible, now months after
the release of 6.0 and however may subsequent releases, to find a list of
what is in the standard packages; neither can I find a single place to see
all the backward-consistency problems that plague notebooks written
previously. And so forth.  Important commands that used to work fine now
sometimes work and sometimes don't (PlotLegend, which I use throughout
myriad notebooks, now doesn't work at all with many types of plot commands
where it used to work fine, in versions before 6.). For a while I reported
these to Mathematica, and always got very constructive replies. However
usually those replies indicated that the problem is a known bug that would
be fixed soon. That's fine, but it's now months after the release of 6 and
many of these problems are still problems (unless they were fixed in, which I can barely get to work at all).  Moreover, some bugs should
require user reports (e.g., things that don't work even in the Help

Several teachers I know are so frustrated by 6.0 that they're trying to
persuade their institutions to switch from Mathematica to a competitor 
So far I've argued strongly against that change here.  But this latest
debacle with is the straw that broke my camel's back. I don't
know what's happened at Wolfram, but whatever has happened is a real
shame.  Mathematica is fast degenerating from a vital research tool
into software with problems I expect only from a Microsoft product.

Frustrated, furious, and fed up.

Michael A. Morrison
David Ross Boyd Professor of Physics & General Education
Dept. Physics & Astronomy
University of Oklahoma
Norman, OK 73019
Phone: 405 325-3961
FAX: 405 325-7557
EMAIL: morrison at

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