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Windows FE memory management

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: Windows FE memory management
  • From: p.kent at
  • Date: Mon, 26 Jul 1993 15:15:10 +0100

Dear MathGroup, 
does anyone understand how the PC Windows front end performs its
memory management? I ask this after trying to run Math'ca 2.2 on a PC
with just 4MB of RAM. Plotting a few graphs quickly eats up the RAM
and puts the FE into severe difficulties. 2.1 handled this quite well
but 2.2 starts printing a cascade of "low memory" warning
messages---so many that the FE completely freezes and the only way out
is to kill the Mathematica process.

What I'd like to know:
1) Are there any useful tricks for running the front end
   with a very small RAM space?
2) Is it possible to recover the space occupied by previous
   graphical output?
3) How *does* the FE manage memory? What exactly is the
   meaning of the "bytes free" number in the bottom right
   corner of the screen? Does the FE use virtual memory?
   I've tried creating a large swap space in Windows for the
   FE to use, but it has irregular and marginal effects on

For background: I'm part of a project which is writing tutorial
notebooks for first-year undergraduate mathematics. We want to
use graphics as much as possible in our presentation, and we have
to teach on 4MB PCs, thus creating the memory problems. Our target
users are mostly computer novices, so we can't expect them to perform
dirty workarounds like saving notebooks and starting again. And we don't 
want all our graphics to be pre-drawn, the users should be plotting
as they work through the notebook.

Phillip Kent
Transitional Mathematics Project
Imperial College

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