A couple of years ago I picked up Mathematica to use for some of my PhD research. And I quickly grew enamoured to its programming style and mathematical capabilities; as opposed to Matlab, my other tool of choice, which acts like and (mostly) has all the grace of a glorified number cruncher.
Since using Mathematica I discovered a few things it can’t do so well and wrote some packages to help myself along. The cost-benefit time ratio was heavily skewed against me, but what the hell. In for a penny, in for a pound. I could hardly ditch Mathematica because it couldn’t output graphics (say) in a form I felt to be sufficiently suitable.
Now, Wolfram has a site set up as a centralised repository of Mathematica code: the Wolfram Library Archive. At present I have three packages that live there:
- ColorbarPlot co-authored with Mike Croucher,
- FixPolygons co-authored with (actually rewritten by) Michele Ceriotti, and
(I don’t, sadly, have time to elucidate their existence right now. Some pretty pictures would be nice.)
The terrible shame, however, is that Wolfram has a huge problem actually updating those sites. A few months ago I sent them updates to these packages and I’ve yet to hear any reply. It makes my life hard if I need to pay attention to whether people are even able to access the most recent versions of my code. Frankly, I’m far better off hosting the code myself.
(Cue suppressed announcement of a long overdue actual website that I’ll one day create but which is on ice until I finish my PhD.)
So here I’d like to point you all to the canonical repository for this work (and any future work as well): wspr/mmapkg at GitHub. It contains the three packages above in addition to a couple of other packages that aren’t as generally useful (yet).
I’d recommend that you use these links instead of the Wolfram ones; who knows how long it will take me to update the Wolfram library versions if it takes so long for them to get back to me. I understand the time constraints, but really. CTAN (for TeX and LaTeX code) is staffed by volunteers and they usually check and upload packages for me within 24 hours.
The other advantage to using GitHub for this sort of work is that it makes things easy for anyone interested in using these packages to make changes and fix bugs in my code.
Since posting the original versions at various times I’ve collaborated with two authors on two packages respectively to improve the features and performance of the code. It’s just so rewarding working in collaboration with people I’ve never met because we share some sort of passion with this tiny piece of code.
While I don’t expect any of the readers of this site to actually be using Mathematica (shout out if you are), hopefully Google will render the information here useful to some people at a later date.
Update: Mike Croucher has made his own announcement of the new version of ColorbarPlot with a great explanation of what’s new and — even better — some pretty pictures.
Update the second: The most recent versions of the packages are now (finally) available at the Wolfram Library (16 July, 2008).