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How to navigate the documentation?

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg110130] How to navigate the documentation?
  • From: kj < at>
  • 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

Someone please show me how to navigate the Mathematica documentation
to answer basic questions like these.



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