Hints for New Mathematica Users

1. Make sure that you have access to the program Mathematica and that the program works well on your computer. If this is not the case you may get restricted access to Mathematica notebooks or CDF-files using Wolfram’s CDF-Player .

2. Download the notebook test.nb, open it with Mathematica and proceed as written there. The notebook contains a collection of Timing tests of simple numerical as well as graphical built-in Mathematica functions. You may compare the times the program needs on your computer with earlier results recorded in the notebook. To learn working with Mathematica continue the notebook according to your interests, or start a new notebook. Select Help and then Wolfram Documentation from the menu and study the offered chapters.

3. If you downloaded one of my notebooks from this website and opened it first time, look whether there is at the beginning a section named “Preparation” or “Initialization”. Follow exactly the hints written there. As a rule, most of the larger notebooks need some additional files, mostly Mathematica Packages. Usually they are bundled together with the notebook in the tgz- or zip-file you downloaded. The main point is that these additional files must be contained in a directory of the $Path, the list of directories in which Mathematica searches for needed files. I recommend to copy them in a common working directory of your choice and start the notebook with the command

SetDirectory[“Path of the working directory”]

4. The Mathematica programming language is functional. Also a notebook may be considered as a function. The active part is a sequence of cells Input |==> Output, surrounded by inactive text- and other cells, which may contain hyperlinks to places of the same notebook or to Internet URLs. Furthermore it is possible to use the Wolfram Cloud including calculations in the cloud. The smallest parts composing a Mathematica program are functional expressions of type F[x, u, ... ]. Here F is the symbol (or name) of the function carried out if evaluating the program. To see the usage of F enter ?F in the notebook, or, if F is a function defined in the Mathematica system, select it and press the key F1; the last step gives more information. Also for functions defined in my packages the command ?F gives the usage of F. To see the definition open the package.

5. It is recommended to study the contents of the packages. To this aim some of the notebooks contain subsections titled “The Usages”; read the usages of the functions defined in the packages clicking the name of the function in the corresponding list, after initializing the notebook. The packages can be opened in Mathematica or in a text editor. Only be careful if you are going to change them. Always first save a copy of the original flawless file in an archive directory. Changing a Mathematica package can make it completely useless, if an error appeared!