How to navigate the documentation?

*To*: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net*Subject*: [mg110130] How to navigate the documentation?*From*: kj <no.email at please.post>*Date*: Thu, 3 Jun 2010 05:39:20 -0400 (EDT)

This question is about the Mathematica documentation, but it would more helpful to pose it in terms of an example question: "I have a file containing newline-separated records. The fields in each record are separated by tabs. The number of fields varies from one record to the next, but it always has the form 2*(n+1), where n >= 3. The first two fields are always alphabetic strings; the remaining 2*n fields are real numbers (expressed using the "E" notation: e.g. 1.23E-4 == 0.000123), and they represent n points in R^2. In summary records have the following form: <string> <TAB> <string> <TAB> <real> <TAB> ... <TAB> <real> <NL> I want to read this file into a Mathematica structure having the form {String, String, {{Real, Real}, {Real, Real}, {Real, Real}, ...}} " OK, now: The *challenge* is to find the answer to the question above in the Mathematica documentation. I'm sorry to say that, after *hours* of effort, I failed completely. OK, here's a much simpler question: "In Mathematica, how do I convert the string "1.23E-4" the real number 0.000123?" The *challenge* now is like before: find the answer to this (much simpler) question in the Mathematica documentation. Again, after much effort, I was not able to answer even this simple question using the Mathematica documentation. Can it be done at all??? Someone please show me how to navigate the Mathematica documentation to answer basic questions like these. TIA! ~K