Questions on writing non-trivial programs in Mathematica. Do not use this tag for questions on plotting/graphics or for questions on doing mathematics with Mathematica, where the focus is more on the math than the program.

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22
votes
1answer
2k views

Programmatically retrieving e-mails from a remote server

Mathematica has a function for sending mail (SendMail) and can import the MBOX format. But what I'd like to do is ...
22
votes
1answer
502 views

On drilling holes with minimal redundancy (and with colors!)

The old Mathematica package Graphics`Shapes` featured the function PerforatePolygons[], which drilled a hole in any ...
21
votes
6answers
1k views

Can this be written well, without loops?

Inspired by this question I would like to know if the following code can be written without explicit loops (For, While, etc.) in a clean, efficient and non-contrived way. I have been unable to do so. ...
21
votes
3answers
1k views

Reading periodic elements from a large file

I have a large binary data file (big endian) with 100+ million "rows" of 11 elements, combination of floats and integers. This is the format: ...
21
votes
2answers
335 views

What is the equivalent of a prototypical Manipulate in lower level functions?

Background: In the Mathematica tutorial 'Dynamic Interactivity' I read that there is a way of developing GUIs in Mathematica that do not use Manipulate. I want to ...
21
votes
3answers
1k views

Sum over n variables

What is the most painless way to sum over n variables, for example, if the range of summation is $i_1 < i_2 < i_3 < \dots < i_n$, where $n$ is an argument of the function in question? Is ...
21
votes
3answers
1k views

What is a type in Wolfram Mathematica programming language?

"Everything is an expression" is a popular citation from many Mathematica guidebooks. So, what is type in Mathematica? How does it relate to common types from Haskell, for example? I did some ...
21
votes
3answers
850 views

Suitability of Mathematica as platform for engineering calculations and programs

I am considering using Mathematica with Wolfram Workbench as a standard platform for calculations and programs in a large engineering department. I am looking for a solution that would provide better ...
21
votes
3answers
817 views

Finding a “not-shortest” path between two vertices

In designing a routine for making a simple three dimensional (5x5x5) labyrinth, I realized that my solutions (a solution is a labyrinth includes a single path from {1, 1, 1} to {5, 5, 5} in a 5 x5x5 ...
21
votes
3answers
347 views

Efficiently appending points to a NearestFunction

I have a program which works with a list of points (in 3D, but it could be in 1D as well, it won't make a difference). Within a loop, it keeps adding new points to the list. To calculate the ...
20
votes
4answers
676 views

Can a function be made to accept a variable amount of inputs?

I have a function that takes two inputs and processes them for a single output. What I need is one that can take a varying number of inputs. and process them to a single output. Is this possible in ...
20
votes
3answers
2k views

Mathematica as a normal programming language

I'm interested in Mathematica's core language for both practical development and as an object of computer science study. Actually, the former is more of a means to the latter. I would like to create ...
20
votes
4answers
702 views

Efficient circular buffer?

I wish to create an efficient circular buffer. That is, I wish to keep a fixed length list while appending a new value and dropping the oldest, repeatedly. As we know lists in Mathematica are ...
20
votes
4answers
945 views

Detecting patterns of black and white stones on a 2D board

I'm writing a program to play a game of Pente, and I'm struggling with the following question: What's the best way to detect patterns on a two-dimensional board? For example, in Pente a pair of ...
20
votes
2answers
2k views

Cycles of length N in a graph

If I have an undirected graph represented with an adjacency matrix, how can I find all the subgraphs which are a cycle of length N? I don't really know the math nor the programming language well, so ...
20
votes
2answers
431 views

How to implement FittedModel like objects

In the course of making some RLink wrappers I want to have some richer containers like Mathematica does with its FittedModel ...
19
votes
3answers
1k views

Downloading files without using Import

A quick question, but which I don't believe has been asked here or at SO. Does Mathematica have a simple way to just download a file from the web? i.e. if I have a list of PDF links (~ 2,000), can I ...
19
votes
2answers
1k views

Code Readability and Object-Oriented Code

The basic problem I have been running into is making readable code, where in other languages I am more familiar with I might have been using class or struct like objects. For example, you can imagine ...
19
votes
3answers
1k views

Deploying Mathematica Content Online

I have the following program at home, which draws on a batch of pre-processed files (that are word frequency text files, compiled using ToLowerCase, ...
19
votes
3answers
411 views

How can I regroup elements in a list into a tree based on their values?

I have a list of elements in an outline, here is an example that is only 3 levels deep: ...
18
votes
6answers
716 views

How to perform a breadth-first traversal of an expression?

Mathematica provides functions that perform a depth-first traversal, or which use such a traversal, including: Scan, Count, ...
18
votes
4answers
594 views

Accessing list elements by name

First, a bit of a long introduction to my problem: I only have a few weeks of Mathematica experience. I am creating a mathematica application that calculates some material properties of steel based ...
18
votes
3answers
2k views

Fastest way to calculate matrix of pairwise distances

It is a very common problem that given a distance function $d(p_1,p_2)$ and a set of points pts, we need to construct a matrix ...
18
votes
4answers
547 views

Continuous evaluation of complex calculations

When having a first look at some system, it's often very useful to just play with the parameters and see how it develops. Therefore, I would like to let a certain evaluation run "until I cancel it". ...
18
votes
11answers
1k views

Generating an ordered list of pairs of elements from ordered lists

I have a pair of ordered lists. I want to generate a new ordered list (using the same ordering) of length n by applying a binary operator to pairs of elements, one from each list, along with the index ...
18
votes
2answers
396 views

When to use Get vs Needs

When should I use << vs Needs? I just always use Needs as ...
18
votes
3answers
640 views

LocatorPane and PlotRange

Consider the following snippet from the documentation on LocatorPane ...
18
votes
1answer
573 views

What is the proper method to load a Mathematica package inside a DynamicModule

I have a DynamicModule that requires loading of Mathematica packages. The usual methods do not seem to apply (...
18
votes
3answers
1k views

Does every Symbol in Mathematica induce a monad?

From my question about types in Mathematica, I assume that every Symbol in Mathematica is a type if it appears as a Head of some ...
17
votes
2answers
2k views

Open Excel file with Mathematica

I would like to open an Excel file and manipulate it as a COM object. While I'm able to open an instance of excel with ...
17
votes
4answers
377 views

Function that caches when it returns unevaluated

How would you go about implementing a function that caches not the result but the fact that it didn't match a pattern? So that it doesn't waste time recomputing a complex time-consuming pattern ...
17
votes
1answer
182 views

How to get Cases to wrap results in an arbitrary head?

A number of functions provide for results to be wrapped in an arbitrary head. This is very important in cases where the results should not be evaluated. Take ...
17
votes
1answer
344 views

Underlying Algorithms for List Manipulation Functions

Does anyone know, or know of a link for the underlying algorithms used for list manipulation functions? Specifically: Union with and without the ...
16
votes
12answers
1k views

Pick elements of largest absolute value

For example, given list = {{1, -3, -5}, {2, 1, 6}, {0, 2, 4}, {-9, 2, 6}} should return: {-5, 6, 4, -9} Updated I found ...
16
votes
5answers
612 views

Is this the most efficient way to round approximate integers to integers while leaving other Reals untouched?

This might seem like an overly simple question, but I need to specify custom plot tick marks as integers (no trailing decimal point) if they are approximately integers, but not if they are not. Using ...
16
votes
3answers
3k views

K-means clustering

In MATLAB, there is a command kmeans() that divides an array into $k$ clusters and calculates the centroid of each cluster. Is there any command in Mathematica to ...
16
votes
2answers
325 views

When should I, and when should I not, set the HoldAll attribute on a function I define?

I have seen a number of examples on this site (such as in syntax highlighting and checking evaluation status) in which functions definitions are preceded with ...
16
votes
1answer
447 views

List manipulation to build a functional expression

Since Mathematica deals with Head[a, b] as an expression in this way The first Part of Head[a, b] is ...
16
votes
2answers
437 views

Schedule programing problem with integer linear programming

I know how to model this question on paper, but I don't know how doing it in Mathematica. Imagine , there is a university student who want to choose courses for this semester and he got the ...
16
votes
1answer
323 views

Are there advantages to using additional arguments of common functions rather than alternative ways of calculating with lists?

(Apologies for the long question title.) One of the interesting, if sometimes confusing, things about Mathematica is that there is always more than one way to do things. Even intermediate users can ...
16
votes
1answer
314 views

Is pure pattern matching without PatternTest and Condition Turing-complete?

Note that this question is not a duplicate of that one. It is specifically about the pattern-matching engine, and explicitly excluding those patterns which call back into the full evaluation (i.e. ...
15
votes
4answers
1k views

Find the minima and maxima of a list

I have a list, such as: ...
15
votes
5answers
606 views

How do I generate the upper triangular indices from a list?

I have some list {1,2,3}. How do I generate nested pairs such that I get {{1,2},{1,3},{2,3}}? That is I'd like a way to ...
15
votes
6answers
628 views

How to understand the usage of Inner and Outer figuratively?

Description: In Mathematica the functions like Thread, Inner, Outer etc. are very important ...
15
votes
3answers
958 views

Effective matrix power like algorithm

First example Suppose you want to calculate the 6th power of some matrix $A$. The brute force attempt of doing this is considering $$(((AA)A)A)A)A$$ which requires a total of 5 matrix ...
15
votes
1answer
269 views

A fast, robust DropWhile

For reasons that have never been entirely clear to me, Mathematica has had a built-in TakeWhile function since version 6.0, but has no equivalent ...
15
votes
1answer
359 views

Importing Zip files

Mathematica can import zipped files automatically, but when the content of the zip file it's another zipped file, I just get the list of files in the second zip: ...
15
votes
5answers
434 views

Alternative ways to implement a triangular recursion

Triangular recursions are a class of algorithms that frequently turn up in computational mathematics. These recursions are expressible in the general form ...
15
votes
2answers
547 views

Lexicographic ordering of strings in Mathematica

I recently realized that Mathematica seems incapable of comparing strings in the "normal" expected lexicographic order. Indeed, for some simulations, I need to process text directly, without fiddling ...
15
votes
2answers
373 views

Distributing PlusMinus consistently

I would like to give the built-in function PlusMinus, which is undefined by default, the intuitive meaning: considering all possible combinations of $+$ and $-$. ...