Why Mathematica

The Material Minds system is built on Mathematica by Wolfram Research. User's are required to have a license for Mathematica 5 or greater in order to run any of the Material Minds modules.

Mathematica is a high-end scientific computing environment. One may ask why Material Minds requires this extra expense instead of a stand-alone application. To put it simply, there is no way a specialty engineering software package could afford to reproduce a fraction of the capabilities of Mathematica in terms of front-end presentation, numerical capabilities, cross-platform capabilities, and graphics. The ability to do symbolic computation is added plus. Building on Mathematica allows MSC to focus on the mechanics of composite materials and structures.

Material Minds takes full advantage of the Mathematica Help Browser (screen shot below). The Help Browser is an interactive, hierarchical database of all the function names, argument lists, examples, and other help related information. Examples can be altered and executed on the spot to get quick results.

There are several modes available for working with the Material Minds code. The easiest and fastest is to simply modify the Help Browser presentation. The Browser can be treated as an interactive, living handbook. However, in this mode, results cannot be stored for latter reference. The next level of use is to modify existing notebooks. The Help Browser is built on standard Mathematica notebooks. These notebooks are given to the user for modification. The altered notebooks can be stored and printed. Advanced users will begin to construct notebooks from scratch. This requires some knowledge of Mathematica syntax and notebook interaction. Finally, it is possible link Mathematica to other codes and applications so that the Material Minds functions are available to other applications.

In the real world of engineering, one frequently needs to perform an operation on large sets of data. An example would be the output of a general purpose finite element code. Mathematica is well suited for imported large tables of numbers and perform operations on the entire set.

Screen Shot of Help Browser Page

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Created by Mathematica (March 8, 2004)