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Re: Success stories wanted

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  • Subject: [mg3002] Re: Success stories wanted
  • From: Dr Phillip Kent <p.kent at>
  • Date: Mon, 22 Jan 1996 03:05:10 -0500
  • Organization: Imperial College

sherwood at (System Administrator) wrote:
>I am going to attempt the impossible (ok, difficult) and try to convince
>the U of Alberta to get a site license for Mathematica.  To do so I
>think it would help if I had tales of success stories from other
>academic sites where mma made a difference. 
>The obvious ones for fields such as physics, and math, I can get.  I'd
>like ones from other sciences, medicine, and especially from the arts.
>If I can get enough departments interested, the pain isn't too bad.
>I've found WRI's home page, and am going through it.  But I'm looking
>for a wider scope.

I can't tell you *how* to convince people to buy a site license, but I
can suggest *why* you need to have one.

For researchers, it is generally fair to say that there's enough pots of
a few thou $$$ around to get hold of a copy of Mathematica when
required. A site license might work out cheaper but that means that
people have to talk to each other, which is a troublesome matter often
best avoided. 

The crux of the site license question, for me, is for Mathematica used
in teaching. Then you're talking lots and lots of copies of Mathematica,
and the only sensible approach is a site license. 

This means that people have to talk to each other. I think it's inevitable
that some will want Mathematica, some other systems (which shall be
nameless since this is the Mma newsgroup). Big arguments will ensue, about
price, features, programming language, etc. (ad nauseam)

Assuming that Mathematica does not have a big user base already in your
institution, then I would say that it is better to end up with *a* good,
modern computer maths system on your site even if it isn't the one you
first thought of - because if things start rolling with the first site
license then you'll have a much clearer way forward to getting other
system site licenses. The different systems have different strengths generally
and for particular subjects (e.g. a Chemistry colleague tells me that M*ple
is the most common system in his area of Chemistry research). A big institution
ought to support two or three systems on-site - that will take time to
develop. Contrast that with insisting on having Mathematica
and getting nowhere. 

So, perhaps your tactics should be to promote the idea of (1) getting a site
license for *a* computer maths system, and (2) suggest Mathematica. But
be prepared for a lot of argument, and be willing to compromise, about (2).

- Phillip Kent, Imperial College, London.


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