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Re: How to write reports and books in Mathematica

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  • Subject: [mg109670] Re: How to write reports and books in Mathematica
  • From: Helen Read <hpr at>
  • Date: Tue, 11 May 2010 06:27:49 -0400 (EDT)
  • References: <hs8nmn$7je$>
  • Reply-to: HPR <read at>

On 5/10/2010 6:38 AM, Alexei Boulbitch wrote:
> I believe that I faced a more serious problem that prevents a broad using of Mathematica for creation
> and keeping documentation. Namely, already several times (to be more precise, about 5 to 6)
> the notebooks I have created appeared corrupted and impossible to repair.


> However, I think that this lack of stability is the most serious problem of the program preventing its future
> propagation and should be seriously addressed.
> Indeed, what will a person do, if he loses an important document due to such instability of Mathematica?
> Assume that this person is not a Mathematica fun (as both of us are), but only wants to use it as a comfortable
> and powerful tool. And what, if it happens just an hour before he is going to present the document to his boss,
> or to shareholders of the enterprise he works in, or to his bank?
> What will I do, if the day of the lecture (that I believe is ready) I find that I cannot open the corresponding file?
> I think the answer is unique: such a person will never use Mathematica any more (at least for creation
> of documentation or of presentations).

What version of Mathematica are you using? What operating system?

I use Mathematica every day, and so do my (about 75 - 100 per semester) 
students. Many, many years ago we had problems with easily corrupted 
notebooks, but those problems have long since been fixed. My calculus 
students each submit at least one Mathematica file per week 
electronically, and I can't remember the last time I opened up a 
student's file that was corrupt to the point of unreadability. This 
entire semester, I think I received *one* file from a student in which 
some of the Sections/Subsections/Text cells that were in the file when I 
posted it had gotten corrupted, but the student's work was intact.

> There is a second problem about Mathematica, which I classify as less serious, but still very unpleasant.
> Rather often it informs that the system made a heavy error and will close without saving. We know that other
> programs like for instance, Word also exhibit sometimes this nice trick. However, my personal feeling is that
> Mathematica  makes it considerably more often. Of coarse one can overcome this problem by a personal discipline
> by often saving notebook one works on. Therefore, I classify this problem as a secondary one though still important.

In recent versions of Mathematica, I have on very rare occasions seen 
Mathematica crash and close without saving. Usually it's because the 
student did something dumb that caused the system to run out of memory, 
but even that doesn't usually cause a fatal crash.

I have also seen some weird crashes that were somehow related to 3D 
graphics, but it only happened to a very small number of students. It 
would happen consistently to the same few students, that Mathematica 
would go poof when they tried to save a file with 3D graphics in it. It 
would only affect about two students, and I was never able to reproduce 
it myself (we got around it by having the affected students delete the 
output before saving). I haven't seen a single case of it this semester, 

My point is that with the vast number (easily in the thousands) of 
Mathematica notebooks I deal with over the course of an academic year, 
these sorts of problems are extremely rare. I find Mathematica 7.0.1 to 
be extremely stable. I wonder if there is something unusual about your 
set-up, or with your specific use of Mathematica, that is causing problems.

Helen Read
University of Vermont

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