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Mathematica 9 New Features

Mathematica 9 New Features

By James H. Choi
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Mathematica 8 logoI just received an email from Wolfram Research with a mention (for the first time) of what is new in Mathematica 9.  I use Mathematica to teach data-driven science research for Intel STS, ISEF and Siemens level competitions.  Here, data-driven means medical image processing, brain wave (EEG) recognition, etc. where my students focus on algorithmically analyzing/processing data while the acquisition itself is left to the doctors, technicians in the field.

Thus, Mathematica’s built in curated data has been very useful to my students and so is its many other ready-made functions/features.  Every time a new version comes out, Mathematica expands our reach that much further, and that much closer to a winning research.

Thus, I am very interested in finding out what this new version of Mathematica has to offer, so that I can adjust my teaching strategy to fully utilize it.  This is my reaction to the announcement.  I will replace “reaction” with “reflection on experience”  as I start using Mathematica 9 for myself and teaching my students with it.

You can find more about it from Wolfram Research site.  The text in blue is the official descriptions and one in black is my comment.

Highly integrated units support, including free-form linguistic entry, conversions, and dimensional consistency checking across graphics and numeric and symbolic calculations

This is great for doing physics and chemistry.  I have seen MathCad having excellent functionality in this area which could be matched by Mathematica with some arm twisting.  It looks like Mathematica finally took over.  When doing hairy calculations in physics, one way to verify the sanity (not the validity) of your computation is by checking the units or dimensions.  Velocity should have some unit of distance in the numerator and some unit of time in the denominator, for instance.  It sounds like Mathematica 9 can do it.  Until now I have computed without units, carrying out the unit computation/coherence in my head.  Come to think of it, that’s how you carry the order of magnitude in your head while you work out the precision of the figure using a slide rule.

Major new data science, probability, and statistics functionality–including survival and reliability analysis, Markov chains, queueing theory, time series, and stochastic differential equations

I do not have any thing to comment on this.

R fully integrated into Mathematica workflow for seamless data and code exchange

“R” is a computer language, a functional language that is known for its strength in statistical analysis.  Many Innocentive specifies the project to be done in “R,” and nothing else.  I have been deterred from some highly attemptable projects solely by this “R” language requirement.

It is not that learning “R” is difficult or expensive.  “R” is free, and open source.  But I could do other projects that accept Mathematica with the time/effort that it would take an old dog to learn a new trick.  The waiting strategy — better known as procrastination — paid off.  I look forward to having nimble Mathematica speak “R” in behalf of an old dog.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/6378458/Column/Info/English/SpecialEvents.gifIntegrated analog and digital signal processing

Analog signal processing to me is wiring circuits.  I am puzzled how you can do analog signal processing in a digital computer.  Maybe they mean they can handle continuous functions?  Laplace transform place of Z transform?I will update this page soon as I find out.  Follow this blog if you are interested.

3D volumetric image processing and out-of-core technology that scales up performance to very large 2D and 3D images and video

This is welcome news.  Volumetric processing is particularly useful in medical image processing.  There were many algorithms that were slowing down Mathematica to the point that interactivity required patience.  I especially look forward acceleration in the 3D surface rendering.

New graph and network analysis, including a built-in link for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and more

The picture below depicts the connections among Facebook members.  My students could graph this only if they had the data.  The announcement sounds like we will indeed be able to access that data.  My students will be able to explore this human connectivity, or the “degrees of separation” in more depth, and win science competition prizes, then go on to MIT.

SabioAcademy teaches science research to bright high school students.  We teach students to use real data from research clinics and perform research with a goal of 1. winning at STS/ISEF/Siemens and 2. publishing in a scientific journal.  We have produced several ISEF winners and publications.


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