Not Just Pretty
Not Just Pretty Beyond its vast number-crunching powers, Mathematica offers symbolic calculation facilities (for problems such as "Solve x^23x + 2 = 0 for all possible values of x") and sophisticated visualization tools. Mathematicas graphics become more than decorative when the problem is one of visualizingfor example, the fit and motion of a complex mechanism (see screen).We have to give at least a respectful nod to Maple 8, with its substantial redesign of its own user interfaceespecially its new interactive plot builder, which many will prefer to Mathematicas interface of command-line plus point-and-click palettes. In enterprise applications, however, Mathematicas approach lends itself at least as well to documenting and reproducing previous analyses, and anyone evaluating this type of product should think about long-range ease of use as well as immediate ease of learning and experimentation. Mathematicas notebook interface takes some learning before it becomes second nature, but its top-to-bottom consistency and its interaction with programmable output facilities offer a return on that invested effort.
Its remarkably simple to use Mathematica to generate a series of graphics representing successive snapshots of a changing situation, to collapse those into a single notebook cell and to show the result as an animated view with convenient on-screen controls.