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Re: Using a notebook as a notebook.

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  • Subject: [mg129218] Re: Using a notebook as a notebook.
  • From: "djmpark" <djmpark at>
  • Date: Fri, 21 Dec 2012 05:42:57 -0500 (EST)
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Yes, you can definitely use Mathematica in that manner. For me, it is the
preferred way of using Mathematica.

A couple of my slogans are:

1) Don't think of Mathematica as a super graphical calculator or as a
programming language or as a word processor, although it is in part those
things, but think of it as a piece of paper on which you are writing your
mathematical ideas. It's a pretty magical piece of paper because of its
memory, active and dynamic capabilities.

2) Calculate everything, including derivations and proofs. This might not be
100% possibly but for most students it is nearly that. You may have to write
definitions, helper functions, convenience functions, encode axioms as Rules
or routines, write MakeBoxes formatting and things like that. When you get
done you have useful routines (the fruit of your labor) and they will be
right because you used them and they worked.

3) Use the Notebook Sectional grouping and use Text cells for commentary and

Proofs by word processing on Mathematica are probably not worth the extra

The Presentations Application from my web site (it costs $50)  is oriented
toward writing these kinds of notebooks. There are a number of extended
examples of active derivations and proofs. Nevertheless you can still use
this approach without the Application.

David Park
djmpark at 

From: nbits [mailto:nbits.spoken at] 

Apart from having made a reasonably thorough study of the Mathematica core
language and notebook interface I am new to Mathematica and remain at
somewhat of a loss as to how to go about using it as a substitute for a pen
and paper notebook. This would encompass the following use-cases: (1) rote
transcription from a textbook at the advanced undergraduate to graduate
level in addition to my own "between the lines" embellishments (i.e. filling
in of "gaps"); (2) a complete rewrite of a proof from a text book; (3)
original material; (4) possibly some integration with Mathematica's symbol
manipulation, theorem proving/verification capabilities. 

Perhaps a concrete example would help clarify my goals. The case I have in
mind involves a summation over a subset of a sequence satisfying some
condition, but I cannot find a way to represent this in Mathematica, which
seems to in every case require a numerical index of summation, with the
index to at the bottom right of the sigma instead of directly under it,
which latter would be the natural location for the desired set-theoretical
specification of the summands.

Another, more general, issue I am having is whether to enter a given piece
of exposition as a text cell or as a math cell, and whether certain palettes
have a text vs. a math "bias." Unfortunately, I lack the patience for
instructional videos and cannot seem to find any conventional, text (i.e.,
html or notebook) based documentation of the palettes. I contacted support
regarding this and they are currently taking their time responding.

I welcome your advice.

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