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Mathematica vs. Executable code

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg15836] Mathematica vs. Executable code
  • From: "Ersek, Ted R" <ErsekTR at>
  • Date: Fri, 12 Feb 1999 18:39:56 -0500 (EST)
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

A lot of people have the idea that a Mathematica program is typically
very slow compared to a compiled program written in C (or a similar
language) to do the same thing.  I know Mathematica will improve a lot
in this regard once the next version (with packed arrays) comes out.
I hope someone will demonstrate how the next version of Mathematica
compares with compiled programs.  I would do it myself, but I have
little programming experience with anything but Mathematica.  One could
take some very number intensive algorithms and implement them using
Mathematica and compiled programs.  Maybe people at WRI could write the
Mathematica implementations, so we know they're efficient.  The
comparison would only look at the performance using machine precision
arithmetic, and would compare speed, memory requirements, and program
complexity using the two approaches.

In my mind Mathematica is the way to go for very high level programming,
symbolic algebra, arbitrary precision arithmetic, exact arithmetic, and
graphics.  Mathematica also has the advantage in program complexity,
program portability and robust numerics (e.g.  Exp[2000.0] doesn't give
an overflow).  What about speed and memory requirements once we get the
next version?  Maybe Mathematica will still come up short in that area,
but by how much?

Ted Ersek

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