Mathematica by Wolfram Research is a highly estimated math tool, so I thought it might be a good idea to try it, especially to compare it to something like Euler Math Toolbox and Maxima. The intended direction of use is education, however, which is not the main line of advertisement on the Mathematica home page. Nor is this target suggested by the pricing policy of Mathematica.

The download of the trial version is 1.1 GB. The limits of acceptable download sizes seem to expand every month. You get the trial version only after registering with Mathematica, which is Okay with me. You get an activation code during the download, which you need after installation. The first surprise was an „exception in the activation component“

I contacted Wolfram as requested. But then I discovered that pressing activate a second time works. A glitch that should not happen, but – okay – it happens even to the best of us.

After starting the program, I had my second surprise. I could not find out how to compute 3+4. Entering this and pressing return does not work (I tried with control and shift too – but see below). For an old guy like me the next try is to open the „Documentation Center“, and in that Window to open „Get Started“. This opens the web browser. There you find an advertising video starting with „Mathematica is renowned as worlds oldest … But it is much more …“ etc. All the other videos on this page are of the same kind, too small and too fast to provide any hint on how to use this program.

Okay, lets go to „Other Learning Resources“, selecting „Documentation and Howtos“ there. This brings me to the same dialog as in the program, only in the Web now. So I am in a loop!

If you do not give up easily, and of course you should not, you try some other links like „Notebook Basics“. There, indeed you find the needed information. You have to press Shift+Return. I am quite sure I did this the first time too, but obviously I didn’t.

I will write some more posts about my experiences with Mathematica later. My expectations are high. Stay tuned.