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Topic: unser-interface problems using Mathematica as a calculator
Replies: 2   Last Post: Nov 12, 2013 12:05 AM

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Murray Eisenberg

Posts: 2,105
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: unser-interface problems using Mathematica as a calculator
Posted: Nov 12, 2013 12:05 AM
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Many things are confusing to somebody who doesn't know the basics. And
yes, this is one of them. But you can undoubtedly find the same
confusing situation with an ordinary handheld calculator, if you try.

With Mathematica, if you're unhappy with the default 6-digit display,
you need only open the Preferences (aka Options, on Windows), select the
Appearance tab, then the Numbers sub tab and globally change from 6 to a
higher value the setting Displayed precision: Number of digits
displayed in output.

You may accomplish the same thing, either globally or for a specific
notebook, or even for selected cells or cell group, by using the Option
Inspector: search for PrintPrecision there.

And for particular output, you may control the print precision
programmatically by using the NumberForm function.

Of course that just pushes the problem further to the right of the
decimal point, and you will eventually encounter the same difficulty.

On Nov 11, 2013, at 12:05 AM, Alan <> wrote:

> The example below illustrates why Mathematica's display rules for
approximate numbers are very confusing for students. Should this be
considered a user-interface bug? If not, why not? In any case, can the
default display be changed to something more familiar from spreadsheets
and other computing languages?
> Thanks,
> Alan Isaac
> In[217]:= tv = TimeValue[1, 0.04, 3]
> tv == 1.124864
> tv == 1.12486
> Out[217]= 1.12486
> Out[218]= True
> Out[219]= False

Murray Eisenberg
Mathematics & Statistics Dept.
Lederle Graduate Research Tower
University of Massachusetts
710 North Pleasant Street
Amherst, MA 01003-9305

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