Yep, back in the day, this Mincey Man took high school and college classes in Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Calculus. And, for what? Today I use a 99-cent calculator on my iPhone that does more than I could possibly have learned back then, and with little more than a few taps. Yet, with little need and plenty of inexpensive replacements for the math that was drilled into my head as a young man, I still use Mathematica on my Mac (from back in the last century; it’s also available on Windows and Linux PCs). Mathematica is also in use by the Mincey Clan high schoolers and college kids, who are also learning a skill they may not use as adults. That’s how mathematics works, folks.
Mathematica contains about 5,000 built-in functions and algorithms, and you get access to more than 150,000 examples in the Documentation Center and another 10,000 open code Demonstrations from Wolfram, the publisher. This is more of a package than an app as it blends simple calculations for those learning with large-scale computational options, computer programming, a numeric and symbolic computational engine, a programming language, a graphics system, and a diverse documentation system.
The built-in Wolfram Language brings together a wide range of programming paradigms for programmers. Numerical computation allows for automatic algorithm selection, arbitrary-precision arithmetic, complete with a vast array of visual examples and options.
One of my favorite features, though, is the graphic representation of data models.
I can honestly say that I’ve experienced modest success in the market based upon an understanding of financial models; all based upon use of Mathematica through the years. Geeky? Yes. Worthwhile? Absolutely.
There’s more going on here than meets the eye, too (and necessary to justify the ongoing price tag; Mathematica ain’t cheap).
Mathematica connects to the Wolfram Cloud so all you need is a PC and web browser connected to the internet to use it. The unique Notebook interface lets you mix text, graphics, and even executable code. If your personal purview leads you into the vast underground of symbolic language, image computation, geometric computation, number theory, numerics, and algebraic manipulation of data, Mathematica is your guide.
The newest version comes with the standby options for differential equation solving, machine learning, both structured and semantic data, random process analysis, and more, but also hundreds of new functions.
I cannot imagine being into mathematics of any kind and not using Mathematica. It’s not for the faint of heart, though. This is an expensive beast with corresponding complexity and a steep learning curve. But that’s why our homes and offices have electricity. So we can use Mathematica at night.