##### From Introduction to Programming with Mathematica, Third Edition

*Mathematica* is a very large and seemingly complex system. It contains hundreds of functions for performing various tasks in science, mathematics, and engineering, including computing, programming, data analysis, knowledge representation, and visualization of information. In this introductory chapter, we introduce the elementary operations in *Mathematica* and give a sense of its computational and programming breadth and depth. In addition, we give some basic information that users of *Mathematica* need to know, such as how to start *Mathematica,* how to get out of it, how to enter simple inputs and get answers, and finally how to use *Mathematica's* documentation to get answers to questions about the system.

## 1.1 A brief overview of *Mathematica*

### Numerical computations

*Mathematica* has been aptly described as a sophisticated calculator. With it you can enter mathematical expressions and compute their values.

You can store values in memory.

<i class="emphasis">In[2]:=</i> <b class="bold">rent = 350</b> <i class="emphasis">Out[2]=</i> 350 <i class="emphasis">In[3]:=</i> <b class="bold">food =175</b> <i class="emphasis">Out[3]=</i> 175 <i class="emphasis">In[4]:=</i> <b class="bold">heat = 83</b> <i class="emphasis">Out[4]=</i> 83<a name="26"></a><a name="page2"></a> <i class="emphasis">In[5]:=</i> <b class="bold">rent + food + heat</b> <i class="emphasis">Out[5]=</i> 608

Yet *Mathematica* differs from calculators and simple computer programs in its ability to calculate exact results and to compute to an arbitrary degree of precision.

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