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What Is Mathematica?
You probably know Mathematica by name. Or you may be one of nearly two million users. But do you really know the breadth of capabilities Mathematica can offer you? Whatever you're working on--calculating, programming, learning, documenting or developing--Mathematica is equipped to help.

Mathematica seamlessly integrates a numeric and symbolic computational engine, graphics system, programming language, documentation system, and advanced connectivity to other applications. It is this range of capabilities--many world-leading in their own right--that makes Mathematica uniquely capable as a "one-stop shop" for you or your organization's technical work.
Wide Range of Uses
  • Handling complex symbolic calculations that often involve hundreds of thousands or millions of terms
  • Loading, analyzing, and visualizing data
  • Solving equations, differential equations, and minimization problems numerically or symbolically
  • Doing numerical modeling and simulations, ranging from simple control systems to galaxy collisions, financial derivatives, complex biological systems, chemical reactions, environmental impact studies, and magnetic fields in particle accelerators
  • Facilitating rapid application development (RAD) for engineering companies and financial institutions
  • Producing professional-quality, interactive technical reports or papers for electronic or print distribution
  • Illustrating mathematical or scientific concepts for students from K-12 to postgraduate levels
  • Typesetting technical information--for example, for U.S. patents
  • Giving technical presentations and seminars
Works at All Levels
Usually Mathematica is used with its notebook interface directly as it comes out of the box. However, it is increasingly being used through alternative interfaces such as a web browser or by other systems as a back-end computational engine.

Some of these uses require in-depth Mathematica knowledge, while others do not. Mathematica is unusual in being operable for less involved tasks as well as being the tool of choice for leading-edge research, performing many of the world's most complex computations. It is Mathematica's complete consistency in design at every stage that gives it this multilevel capability and helps advanced usage evolve naturally.
Fully Featured, Fully Integrated

At a superficial level, Mathematica is an amazing, yet easy-to-use calculator. The world's most comprehensive set of mathematical, scientific, engineering, and financial functions is ready-to-use--often with just one mouse click or command. However, Mathematica functions work for any size or precision of number, compute with symbols, are easily represented graphically, automatically switch algorithms to get the best answer, and even check and adjust the accuracy of their own results. This sophistication means trustworthy answers every time, even for those inexperienced with the mechanics of a particular calculation.

While working through calculations, a notebook document keeps a complete report: inputs, outputs, and graphics in an interactive but typeset form. Adding text, headings, formulas from a textbook, or even interface elements is straightforward, making online slide show, web, XML, or printed presentation immediately available from the original material. In fact, with notebook document technology, a fully customized interface can easily be provided so that recipients can interact with the content. The notebook is a fully featured, fully integrated technical document-creation environment.

Easy Programming, Powerful Results

The move from immediate calculations to programmed computations can occur evolutionarily. Just one line makes a meaningful program in Mathematica--the methodology, syntax, and documents used for input and output remaining as they are for immediate calculations.

Mathematica is also a robust software development environment. Mathematica packages can be debugged, encapsulated, and wrapped in a custom user interface, all from within the Mathematica system. Alternatively, Java, C, or links to a proprietary system can use Mathematica's power behind the scenes.

One Unifying Idea
Symbolic programming is the underlying technology that provides Mathematica this unmatched range of abilities. It enables every type of object and every operation--be they data, functions, graphics, programs, or even complete documents--to be represented in a single, uniform way as a symbolic expression. This unification has many practical benefits from ease of learning to broadening the scope of applicability of each function. The raw algorithmic power of Mathematica is magnified and its utility extended.