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Re: Re: v.7.0 issues

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg93947] Re: [mg93910] Re: v.7.0 issues
  • From: Andrzej Kozlowski <akoz at>
  • Date: Sat, 29 Nov 2008 04:31:43 -0500 (EST)
  • References: <gggqff$31i$> <> <gglsmu$8ai$> <>

On 28 Nov 2008, at 19:09, AES wrote:

> 1)  M7 brings another massive set of changes in old routines or new  
> and
> increasingly complex capabilities that one presumably has to learn or
> adapt to, before the dust has even settled on the massive (and  
> massively
> disruptive) changes associated with Matheamtica 6.

Really? Good you please provide any basis for this claim?
Actually, the main changes in Mathematica 7 as compared with 6 are the  
inclusion in the Kernel of additional functionality (Image Processing,  
Mupliprocessing), which were previously available as (expensive) Add  
Ons. The other changes, as far as I can tell after using Mathmatica 7  
for a few days, are rather minor. A notable one is elimination of a  
number of bugs and better stability (so far, anyway, I have not had a  
Front End crash, something that used to happen regularly with version  
> 2)  And yet, _still_ no adequate user documentation, at least for  
> new or
> occasional or "ordinary" users of these changes and new capabilities  
> --
> the same as was the case when Matheamtica 6 emerged.  (And, presumably, any
> third-party efforts that might have been under way to develop such
> documentation for Matheamtica 6 have now been thrown off track, or at least  
> further
> delayed, by the emergence of M7).

Not at all. For the reason, see above.

> 3)  Beyond this, as a working engineer, long-time university faculty
> member, and educator, I'm fully in accord with the response that says
>> Like all [recent] versions of Mathematica, version 7.0 is
>> ridiculously expensive for the average user...
> "Ridiculously and impossibly expensive" might be more like it.

Really? I so happens that I just talked about it to my daughter. She  
is a post-doc at Genentech (she turned down Stanford because of the  
notoriously miserable conditions of its post-doc programs) and she  
told me that the image processing software she is using costs 20000  
dollars to buy and 5000 dollars per year to maintain. That's, by the  
way, "the standard" in the field.  So why is Mathematica "ridiculously  
and impossibly expensive" compared with that?
> 4)   And so I expect I'll be going along with another recent response
> that says:
>> Probably, I am not upgrading anymore for this and the
>> reasons below, despite that I have been a loyal customer
>> since the earliest v2.1 and upgraded most of the
>> subsequent releeases.
> In my case, it's been "loyal customer __and active proponent__ of
> Mathematica since the earliest v1.0."  Just dug out of my files  
> acouple
> of memos dating back a decade or more ago, from me to deans of schools
> and to IT people in my university, urging major university support for
> widespread adoption of Mathematica across my university.  Where
> opportunity presents, I'm voicing exactly the opposite views today.

Congratulations. Presumably you consider these "good deeds", of which  
you are justly proud, which is why you are letting us all know. Or is  
there any other reason?

> 5)  I might be a bit more restrained in expressing these highly  
> negative
> views, here and elsewhere,  had I not had an accidental encounter a  
> few
> weeks ago with a senior colleague in my department whose multi-year
> academic involvement with Mathematica up through v5 has included doing
> very extensive analyses and numerical calculations of complex quantum
> phenomena; writing several memos and reports for his graduate students
> and colleagues on the techniques he's developed for this work; and  
> also
> developing, teaching and writing class materials for an undergraduate
> course titled "EE141M  Engineering Electromagnetics with Mathematica".
> (He also happens to be a member of both NAE and NAS.)

In what way us this supposed to certify to his competence in the even  
most basic usage of Mathematica? After all, you are a Stanford  
university professor and after many years of using Mathematica and in  
spite of the availability of vast array of books etc. concerning it,  
you have not reached the standard that would be expected of a first  
year undergraduate, who has taken an introductory course at some minor  

> I discovered that, totally without any contact with my own views and
> rants, he had purchased multiple copies of Matheamtica 6 when it came out, and
> installed them on his home and lab computers.  After wrestling with Matheamtica 6
> for some period of time, he then removed and trashed all his copies of
> Matheamtica 6; dug out his old installation CDs for Mathematica 5 and reinstalled it on all
> his machines; and doesn't plan to worry further about MX where X>5.

> I've also had private email responses to some of my early posts on  
> this
> group following the emergence of Matheamtica 6 that have been supportive of of my
> criticisms of Matheamtica 6.

Have you got any idea what fraction out of the total number of  
Mathematica users do these responses represent?

> Bottom lines:
> *  I absolutely don't pretend to understand Wolfram's product and
> marketing and branding strategy for Mathematica, and especially who  
> they
> view as their customer base.  But at this point, it doesn't include  
> me,
> or any groups I can think of; and I sure as hell wouldn't invest in
> Wolfram myself, or advise anyone I know to buy Mathematica.

As far as I know, Wolfram Research is a privately owned unlisted  
company and there is no way for you to invest in it even if you  
wanted, so really this is besides the point. As for your last remark,  
however, it is a bit amazing. Do you mean you would really not advise  
"anyone", even someone for whom the only alternative was a 20,000  
dollar program with no printed documentation? Doesn't this sort of  
thing tell us more about you than about Mathematica?

Andrzej Kozlowski

> *  And as an entirely separate issue, I don't understand Wolfram's
> strategy or tactics so far as user documentation is concerned.  Their
> approach simply seems utterly crazy to me, and has since the arrival  
> of Matheamtica 6.
> *  But I also retain a great admiration for the technical capabilities
> and the immense knowledge base embedded in Mathematica -- post Mathematica 5 
> included -- which means the two preceding comments are sources of
> sadness, not gladness.  I'm just not going to ride the Wolfram train  
> any
> further myself.

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