- Hardcover: 1072 pages
- Publisher: Springer; 2004 edition (28 Oct. 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0387942823
- ISBN-13: 978-0387942827
- Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 5.6 x 25.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,903,425 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- See Complete Table of Contents
The Mathematica Guidebook for Programming Hardcover – 28 Oct 2004
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From the reviews:
"This volume is the first one in a series of four books on the Mathematica programming language. It is best suited for those who … want to learn the sophisticated tricks of the advanced programming and to use Mathematica up to its full capacity. … The book addresses many features of human-computer interaction. … This book is one of the most valuable sources for the advanced users of Mathematica. … all the science/engineering/computer science/mathematics libraries should have this book and its companion volumes." (Matti Vuorinen, Zentralblatt MATH, Vol. 1080, 2006)
"The Mathematica GuideBook for Programming provided this reviewer with insights into solving and visualizing problems by using Mathematica … . Its wealth of exercises, annotated solutions and integrated bibliographic references should make this set a valuable part of the library of any Mathematica user. I highly recommend it." (Marvin Schaefer, MathDL, August, 2006)
"On the whole, the programming GuideBook provides a comprehensive, step-by-step development of Mathematica programming capabilities and contains an impressive collection of examples and worked exercises. Key Mathematica functions are discussed in detail, using interesting examples and put to the test in real programs." (Willy Hereman, SIAM Review, Vol. 47 (4), 2005)
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Top Customer Reviews
But this book really teaches nothing about programming like Maeder's old book does. I guess it was my fault - the title suggested something quite different to what it is to me.
This book will, if you read it carefully, teach you a lot of Mathematica. But starts with exactly the same example as Steven Wolfram's The Mathematica Book (the standard reference).
Much of the book is just the same sort of thing you find in the standard book (and is online at Wolfram Research's web site and is built into the help browser). I did not really want this book to be told how to take the sine of Pi/8 or other such material that is covered in The Mathematica Book.
This book is part of a 4-volume set. I only have this part and I somewhat doubt I'll buy any more. The book is quite heavy, but is significantly more manageable than Wolfram's book, which really is a pain because of its sheer size.
One thing I found odd about this book was the references. The preface has 59 references. Chapter 1 has 1194 references! Nobody could accuse the author of plagiarism! The book mentions that it took 20 years for astronomers to work out the tragectory of the moon, then cites about 10-15 journal references. Who would care? If I was an astronomer than perhaps I would, but I would not buy a book on Mathematica to learn about astronomy. I really was left puzzled what all the references achieved.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Even if you use a "free" version of GNU-CAS or the home version of Mathematica (Wolfram Mathematica 9 Home Edition (Windows/Mac/Linux)), this series gives a peek into CAS levels that have long been unpatented trade secrets of TI and HP and very tough to decode. NO other good recent books cover the behind the curtain aspects of CAS as well as these volumes. If you're a math programmer, even if you love Maple, you'll find this series way helpful, at all kinds of levels.
Mathematica is a layered object language, and has multiple compile levels (with an overriding interpreter), which are essentially functions in what, as a programmer, you'd call arrays or hashes (or in Mathematica-speak, lists, functions, rules and patterns). You MUST read the programming book to "get" the rest of the series, otherwise you'll be stuck in what seems like a no-man's land of not being able to define your own classes yet not being able to use typical CAS-like functions in assembly-- when in fact both, and much more, are supported once you get it. We still use the graphics volume at our shader joes sub, and it is as relevant in 2013 as it was 5 years ago. I probably don't have to mention that a C++ compiler is a must beyond a certain level of coding. The difference in "getting" the unique symbolics is code that takes forever to run vs. code that executes as if directly compiled just like Fortran.
Now, for the Amazon deal. The simply AMAZING DVD that comes when you buy one of these volumes new (or used with a SPECIFIED unopened DVD) has an incredible reference with the texts for all the volumes. So, if you have an interest in one area over another (programming, symbolics, numerics, graphics), you can get that 1,000 to 1,300 page gem, and still read all the rest! I personally recommend getting the one you want new on Amazon to be sure you get the whole, functional DVD. Given that these are starting to skyrocket in price due to supply/demand, that could literally save you $300 or more. If you do find a good "deal" from a third party, follow this algorithm:
1. MAKE SURE the description on the LEFT (with the product condition) specifically says an unopened DVD is included. You can even comb the 4 volumes under Amazon's "see all offers" feature to find this statement.
2. Obviously, if the listing says "associated media MAY not be present" etc., do NOT buy there. Less obviously, if it says nothing but a condition like good or acceptable, remember that "good" itself CAN INCLUDE the UNSTATED spec that media "may" be missing. Pass there too!
3. In addition to the "includes unopened DVD," buy from a minimum 96% rated seller with at least 1,000 ratings, and be sure they SAY where they are shipping from. China and India do NOT have to tell you this, although they do have to meet Amazon's delivery time ranges. You just can't be sure what long transport times will do to media if it's not in the original, sealed shell. Joining Prime also gives the option of warehouse shipping free from Amazon itself if a third party tells you the above, yet Amazon warehouses and ships. That gives the added advantage of Amazon's professional packaging.
Regardless of which volume your prefer, you need to start by reading volume one, the programming text, or you'll be lost even in graphics. Programming not only gives you a crash course in CAS, but shows the many unique functions and methods of this software. It really is a hybrid between CAS functions and libraries and much more C++ looking calls and features if you get into it deeply. This allows you to come from many different points of view, and help learn the others if you wish. Truly an extraordinary series, in math/computer education as well as using the software to its full ability. The publisher advertises these as stand alone, which is true, but ONLY because the DVD allows you to read programming first! Without the DVD, that statement is misleading (which isn't the publisher's or Amazon's fault, let alone the author!).
One joke says that the definition of discrete math today is all the math/computer UI's they've removed from High School now! Don't get me started. Removing a calculus requirement means we're teaching 2,500 year old math to many of our HS grads. Adding just the basics of calc brings them up to 1666. If you teach, consider sneaking wisdom from these texts into your courses; we might even begin to bring our grandkids up to 1960 or so!!!
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Also, before I became disabled I was a software engineer since,, well more than 10 years. ( yeah I am really old now ). So I understand what progammers and everyone has come to expected from a guidebook titled "Programming". And this is not a "hello world" kind of book, nor is Mathematica really fit that paradigm.
And of course the obvious point is that when these were written the documentation for Mathematica was not as evolved as it is today. Today we also have a nice selection of books available for Mathematica which cover it well. ( the Navigator is probably one of the best, and for programming The cookbook is actually good. and anything with Paul Wellin's name is a better fit for the programmer ).
Now to this book. This is actually a great book and series if you want to understand everything about Mathematica. Trott explains every fine point about mathematics and using Mathematica for mathematics. It is not an easy read, as others have noted in their reviews because there seems to be alot of examples which are not concise nor do they illustrate concepts very well. Yet the book is full of them. ( though Trott has taught me alot about various fields of mathematics. From modeling earthquakes to forest fires ).
I have run into aspects of Mathematica, the finer points of patterns and manipulating very complex lists. This book has illustrated not only how, but why you should choose one construct over another. Trott does a great job of presenting the various programming elements of Mathematica, and stresses a process in which you simply do not translate from "C" to Mathematica. From page one he stresses that you should not focus simply on the result, but the entire process of deriving the result.
So as a Mathematica user and programmer this is a great book, however, it is a better reference than it is a primary source of learning the basics. But as you advance with Mathematica this book is a great resource. Even the Mathematica documentation can be frustrating if you are not sure what question you need to ask if the first place, and the circular references and links don't help either.
The CD as mentioned contains all of the books, so no need to buy all the books.
The Programming Guidebook turned out to be a pleasant surprise: while there is a vast amount of material that would benefit the expert, it is also a careful and patient instruction book for the beginner.
Mathematica is a complex system; at first acquaintance it appears to be a bewildering collection of expressions and ad hoc programming styles. This book is a pedagogical masterpiece: it brings order to this seeming chaos by revealing the underlying framework. Topics are organized into comprehensible groups and the author focuses on each in detail.
Some parts that particularly appealed to this reader:
The section in Chapter 1 on Solutions to "What you always wanted to compute". This is a wonderfully whimsical list of problems that the author has gathered over many years and each is backed up by several references. This section is an unexpected delight and following up on the references provides an education in itself. The very first paragraph in Chapter 2, where the author provides one of the keys to unraveling Mathematica. The section in Chapter 3 on lambda calculus, which clarifies the use of pure functions. The entire collection of topics in Chapter 4 on meta-Mathematica.
Chapter 5 deals with the topic that is probably most foreign to those like myself used to traditional languages, (Fortran, C, C++); the treatment in this chapter is outstanding. Chapter 6 shows how Mathematica uses lists as a unified approach for vectors, matrices and tensors. Be aware however, that the book does require a fair background in mathematics or physics, (bachelor's or above).
It is clear that this is a labor of love; the author is deeply excited by the capabilities of Mathematica, and does his best to share his enthusiasm with the reader. The result is an inspiring book that is richly deserving of high praise. To fellow novices aspiring to use Mathematica gainfully, I can recommend the Programming Guidebook without hesitation. With study and patience, this Guidebook will dramatically enhance your ability to use Mathematica successfully.
I still believe my path to skillful use of Mathematica is going to be a long one, but it does not matter - with a guide like this, I expect to enjoy the journey immensely.
Now then - one of the advantages of Mathematica is that it is supported by extensive documentation - both online and in print. Trott's Guidebooks (set of four books - Programming, Graphics, Symbolics and Numerics) is an impressive addition to this literature. These books stand out among the rest of the literature in several respects:
1. The whole set put together must be the biggest Mathematica book around.
2. The books teach Mahtematica through examples. But unlike most other books, the examples are not toy-examples; they are applications of Mathematica to non-trivial mathematical problems. Not only do they teach you Mathematica, they also teach you mathematics!!
3. The above mentioned non-trivial mathematical problems and results are very well referenced. Each chapter ends with an extensive bibliography - usually several hundred references. This further enhances the value of the Guidebooks as books on mathematics, not just Mathematica.
4. Each book comes with a DVD containing the WHOLE SET (yup - you heard it - all four books) as Mathematica notebooks. You can open these notebooks in Mathematica, edit them and experiment with them.
5. There is a piece of Mathematica code on the web-page that incorporates the whole set on DVD into the Mathematica help browser. This feature is just brilliant!!
It is hard to even consider all the information in here. I like areas others have discussed, like the Lambda calculus and the Metamathematica discussions. I also like that all 4 of the books are included, formatted as Mathematica Notebooks, on the DVD. The DVD that comes with any one volume contains that volume's notebooks already evaluated, and the other 3 volumes' notebooks unevaluated, and an unevaluated copy of that volume's notebooks, and the Table of Contents and Index and other infrastructural notebooks. So, while the hardcopy is very nice to have, I've also hunted around in the other volumes with great benefit.
It really makes no sense to compare these with Ruskeepaa's Mathematica Navigator, which is a nice example of the several books that help get one started with Mathematica. Trott is aiming at a whole different level. His explanations are more insightful, more complete. He discusses more topics.
Trott goes well beyond Wolfram's book. To quote him, "The four GuideBooks contain about 25,000 Mathematica inputs, representing more than 70,000 lines of commented Mathematica code. (For the reader already familiar with Mathematica, here is a more precise measure: The LeafCount of all inputs would be about 800,000 when collected in a list.) The GuideBooks also have more than 4,000 graphics, 100 animations, 8,000 references, and 1,000 exercises. More than 10,000 hyperlinked index entries and hundreds of hyperlinks from the overview sections connect all parts in a convenient way. The evaluated notebooks of all four volumes have a cumulative file size of about 10 GB."
Mathematica is a huge and powerful tool. As Mathematica is to other technical computing tools, Trott's set is to other Mathematica books.
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