Using Mathematica for UNIX

The following is the method to run Mathematica as a batch job:

math -batchinput -batchoutputm outfile

Documentation and Help

There is a man page available for Mathematica. To read the manual page type:

man math

Mathematica does not provide help within the math command. There is a command called mathbook which will allow you to access a Mathematica reference of available functions.

Inside Mathematica you can use the following three methods to get information on functions.

?function Gives a brief description of the function

function Gives a extended description of the function

?Ab* Shows all functions starting with &quotAb"

?* Shows all functions

Helpful Hints when using Mathematica

  1. Arguments to functions are given in square brackets.
  2. The first letter of build in functions are upper case
  3. Multiplication can also be represented by spaces.
  4. Powers are denoted by ^.
  5. Complex numbers

      x + Iy => The complex number (x+iy)
      Re[z], Im[z], Conjugate[z], Abs[z], Arg[z]
  6. Using previous results

      % => The last generated results
      %% => Next to last
      %n => The result of the n-th line
  7. Manipulating Variables

      x = value, x = y = value,
      x = . or Clear[x]
      x y means xy
      x^2y means (x^2)y not x^(2y)
  8. List:
    When you collect together a bunch of entries and treat them as a single entry, then it’s named as a list.

      Ex: ln[1] := {3, 5, 1}
      Accessing or Manipulating a single elemnet
      Part[list,i], or list[[i]]

Algebraic Equations

Mathematica has the ability to handle both numeric and symbolic calculations. This allows users to enter algebraic formulas. This has the added advantage of being able to enter the values as they are read, and be able to evaluate results for different values.

Replacing variables with values

    EX: Replacing 'x'

      exp /. x -> value

    Several replacements

      exp /. { x -> xval, y -> yval }

Some important functions to manipulate equations

    Expand, Factor, Simplify, ExpandAll
    Together, Apart, Cancel, Collect
    Expand[exp, Trig -> True]
    Factor[exp, Trig -> True]
    ComplexExpand, PowerExpand

More Important Functions


    D[f,x], D[f,x1,x2,...], D[f, {x,n}], Dt[f], Dt[f,x]


    Intergrat[f,x], Intergrate[f, {x, xmin, xmax}],


    [f, {x, xmin, xmax}, {y, ymin, ymax}]

Sums & Products

    Sum[exp, {i, imin, imax}], Sum[ exp, {i, imin, imax}, {j, jmin, jmax}]
    Product[exp, {i, imin, imax}]

Solving Equations

    Solve[lhs == rhs, x]

Creating functions

Just as mathematica has built-in fuctions, users can also create their own functions.

    Ex: f[x_] := exp (Defines the function f)
    You can use "?f" to show the definition of f, &
    Clear[f] clears the definition of f.
    Look at the following example of transformation rules for functions.

      Ex: 1+ f[x] + f[y]

The three transformation rules shown below transforms the expression differently.

    x -> value
    f[x] -> exp (or value)
    f[t_] -> exp

Vectors and Matrices

Lists and lists of lists are used in mathematica to represent vectors and matrixes.

    {a, b, c} => vector(a, b, c)
    {{a,b,c}, {c,d,e}} => matrix(a b c)
    (c d e)

Useful functions

    Array, IdentityMatrix, DiagonalMatrix, Part
    Dimensions, MatrixForm,
    Inverse, MatrixPower, Det, Transpose
    EigenValue, EigenVector


Unlike some other programs, Mathematica allows it’s users to plot actual algebraic functions. One can do 2-d and 3-d plots with a cutomized view port. Also, users have the freedom to change the settings in graphs to customize them accordingly.
Ploting functions (2-D)

    Plot[f, {x, xmin, xmax}]
    Plot[f1,f2,...., {x, xmin, xmax}]

    More examples can be found on page 136.

    In general mathematica selects the suitable options for the graph, but if one wants, the option command is there to change the choices.

Important options

    Axes, AxesLabel, AxesOrigin, DefaultFont, DisplayFunction
    Frame, FrameLabel, FrameTicks, GridLines, PlotLabel

    PlotRange, Ticks, DisplayFunction
    (options that cannot be used with 'show') PlotStyle,

    PlotPoints, MaxBend, PlotDivision, Compiled

Ploting functions (3-D)

    The command for 3-D plots is Plot3D. After a plot, the command show can be used for redrawing and changing options.
    Plot3D[f, {x, xmin, xmax}, {y, ymin, ymax}]

Important Options

    Axes, AxesLabel, Boxed, ColorFunction, DefaultFont
    DisplayFunction, FaceGrids, HiddenSurface, Lighting
    Mesh, PlotRange, Shading, ViewPoint
    Default View point = {1.3, -2.4, 2}

Ploting lists of Data

    The following functions are awailable for ploting of lists.
    ListPlot, ListPlot3D, ListContourPlot, ListDensityPlot


    1. Mathematica also has the ability to do parametric plots. More information on parametric plots can be found on page 169.
    2. There is a command show available in mathematica that can be used to redraw plots, and to change the options after the initial plot.
    3. There are a lot more different plotting functions available with mathematica, such as animation plots. If these functions are not loaded at startup one may need to explicitly load them before calling a function.
    4. << Graphics'Graphics' load a package with additional graphics function

      LogPlot, LogLogPlot, LogListPlot, LogLogListPlot

      PolarPlot, ErrorListPlot, TestListPlot,

      BarChart, PieChart, PlotvectorField, SphericalPlot3D

      << Graphics'Animation' load animation package

Mathematica External interface

    <> name: Outputs 'expr' to a file as plaintext.

    expr >>> name: DAappend 'expr' to file.

    !!name: Display content of plain text file.

    Save: Save[” name”, f,g,…] save definition for variable

    Dump: In systems such as unix, one has the ability to save the
    complete state of mathematica.

    Dump[" namefile"]

    math -x to start from dump file.


    1. Dump creates a huge binary file, therefore one may run out of quota, when trying to run Dump command
    2. For more information on generation of c,fortran code, Tex input or spicing files please refer to page 182 through page 186 of Mathematica book.