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Re: Book

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg127103] Re: Book
  • From: "djmpark" <djmpark at>
  • Date: Sat, 30 Jun 2012 05:18:39 -0400 (EDT)
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  • References: <3080724.30560.1340960821356.JavaMail.root@m06>

I hope you will pardon me if I veer somewhat from your question.

The Mathematica documentation files and tutorials themselves are the least
expensive and most up to date way to learn Mathematica. The trick is not to
just read or evaluate them but to type the commands into your own notebook
and use variations to experiment with them.

There are a number of Mathematica books out there, which I will let others
recommend. Some get out of date, and most of them spend much their effort
repeating the same basics. Their main advantage is that they might introduce
you to Mathematica commands you might not ordinarily think of.

A better way is to get ordinary non-Mathematica books, or even tutorial
pages from the web, and try to implement them in Mathematica notebooks,
flying solo, so to speak. Start with really EASY material that you basically
understand where the only problem is to translate it into Mathematica

The cruel fact is that it takes a long time to get really good at
Mathematica and nobody masters it all. People headed for technical careers
should start learning it in secondary school. It's a real problem if one has
to learn Mathematica and difficult technical material at the same time and
under time pressure. I regard Mathematica as a revolutionary new medium for
doing and communicating mathematics. If it took us most of secondary school
(at least) to learn how to write and express ourselves well in our native
language, how much more effort is involved in adding mathematics and the
various dynamic presentations into the mix? The good news is that it is such
a new area that you can be one of the pioneers.

One way to learn physics, say, is to pick a topic (preferably simple) and
write a tutorial on it using the Mathematica medium. Write it as if you were
explaining the topic to someone else. Text cells are as important as
Input/Output cells. Polish it. You can actually add value to the material
because most topics have not been well treated using the active and dynamic
features of Mathematica. You can explain many things much more clearly and
elegantly with Mathematica than can be done on the printed page.

Don't hesitate to write your own routines when necessary. Mathematica does
not have buttons for everything. Often routines are helpful for convenient
application to specialized areas. Write usage statements, error messages,
and SyntaxInformation statements for generally useful routines. Eventually
you will have a suite of great routines that you could wrap into a package.
Try to calculate everything. Do derivations actively without using "word
processing" to get over steps. It usually can be done, increases your
abilities with Mathematica and the subject matter, helps to proof your work,
and is very impressive to anyone reading the notebook.

All these things are just as important as adding another book to the

David Park
djmpark at 

From: Mat' G. [mailto:ellocomateo at] 

Hi all,
which book do you advice to learn and use Mathematica 8 in the field of
physics and engineering?
Thanks for advising!

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