Are you interested in purchasing David Wagner's "Power programming with Mathematica"?



I recently contacted McGraw-Hill to see if they have a mechanism in place for printing out-of-print books that are still of interest. Specifically, I asked about "Power programming with Mathematica" by David Wagner, as I am personally interested in obtaining a copy, and suspect that others might also be interested.

Here is the literal response I received from McGraw-Hill:

Good morning Todd,

If there was a high enough demand for the book there is a possibility. If you can let me know how many you're looking for, and the name of the school or business you're with I can contact the editor and check to see if there's something that can be done.

McGraw-Hill Education

First, please don't get your hopes up, as nothing may come of this; however, I am committed to seeing this through if there is sufficient community support to get the publisher to make it available again, if only for a limited time.

If you would be interested in purchasing a copy of Wagner's text, please respond in the affirmative by making a comment to this question, such as "yes, I would like to purchase a copy." In this way, I can directly "show" our community's interest to the publisher.

At this time, I can't speak to cost, but it is clear that we need a "critical mass" to get the publisher's attention to make it worthwhile. Keep your fingers crossed and show your support!

Todd Allen

Posted 2012-12-17T18:37:35.763

Reputation: 1 964


Great work making Wagner's book available! My copy has disintegrated from use. I have excerpted from it in the following posts (including in the 2nd post catching a rare Wagner error) and posted links to your note and book download sites: gave it a short and strong endorsement in my Mathematica book reviews here: http://mathematica-guid

– Kris Carlson – 2014-04-11T23:33:53.597

4Yes, I would very much like to purchase a copy and would also highly recommend this book to my university librarian. It's a pity that I cannot find a single copy of this excellent book in any of the University of California libraries and I have to borrow one via ILL from some tiny school 500 miles away from me (and I get to keep it for only 5 days!) – rm -rf – 2012-12-17T18:44:06.663

I would be willing to buy it too. – asim – 2012-12-17T20:13:45.240

Another Me Too. I have access to a copy but would like to have my own. – Matariki – 2012-12-17T20:17:13.133

7This publisher needs to get with the program. They have the typeset copy of the book so for low demand or out of print books they should be able to print on demand using anyone of a number of POD services available. – Mike Honeychurch – 2012-12-17T20:25:35.670

Me Too, Wilbert – wilbert van meerwijk – 2012-12-17T20:50:41.363

Add my name to the list. – Cassini – 2012-12-17T21:01:36.290

6I will buy two! – Rolf Mertig – 2012-12-17T21:17:58.803

Yes I would buy one – Lou – 2012-12-17T22:06:42.223

2It might be worth asking the publisher if they are willing to sell or sign the rights to the book over to someone. The book could then be set up as a POD on amazon and therefore available to everyone at any time at a reasonable price. If they are willing to do that I'd consider buying it off them and off it for POD sale on Amazon at cost -- or if anyone wants to join me we could make it a community project. – Mike Honeychurch – 2012-12-17T22:14:26.063

i would be willing to buy a copy. – Zviovich – 2012-12-17T22:24:47.403

Yes, I would like buy one. – Gustavo Delfino – 2012-12-17T22:41:00.340

@MikeHoneychurch I would definitely be able to contribute and would be happy to join you. – Matariki – 2012-12-18T02:43:59.630

@Matariki maybe it could be put to the publisher that "we" would manage it and in return they would receive a royalty (and they would manage the royalty payment to the author etc.). Basically all that is needed is a PDF of the print edition and a PDF of the cover. This can be set with with a POD service very cheaply. – Mike Honeychurch – 2012-12-18T02:47:26.323

@MikeHoneychurch Yes, that would be possible to and might appeal more to the publisher. We should maybe take this discussion off the comments here. We could meet in chat or via LinkedIn. – Matariki – 2012-12-18T03:24:05.670

I would also like one. – gpap – 2012-12-18T11:51:05.760

7I have forwarded everyones' comments to McGraw-Hill and have attempted to make a strong argument for allowing the Mathematica user community to once again have access to this text. As soon as I know more, I'll forward it on. – Todd Allen – 2012-12-18T18:52:11.690

I will also buy at least one :) – Reb.Cabin – 2012-12-18T21:22:10.303

I will buy one. – Fred Kline – 2012-12-18T23:17:07.803

yes, I would like to purchase a copy. – sunt05 – 2012-12-19T00:38:56.910

4Yes, I certainly would. Maybe inquire about making it available electronically since they could still sell it, but they would not be burdened with the costs associated with a physical paper print run. – JohnD – 2012-12-17T18:44:43.760

Print-on-demand costs are quite low, at least for some books. – Chris Degnen – 2012-12-17T19:45:01.857

I will buy this book as well. – faleichik – 2012-12-19T06:56:41.067

I will definitely buy another one for my office! – halirutan – 2012-12-19T12:46:56.363


Yes, I'm interested! POD, if required, should be quite cheap; for example, WRI seems to POD the tutorial collection and manages to charge a very reasonable price considering the amount of material to be printed.

– Oleksandr R. – 2012-12-21T20:38:31.733

Count me in, especially if it is in electronic format. – None – 2012-12-29T15:04:03.947

Is there any way that this could also be used to show interest for new (updated for Mathematica 9) edition? – Luxspes – 2013-01-05T02:55:53.067

I would like to purchase one if it is affordable. ($50 +/-) – dearN – 2013-01-12T19:00:32.907

1A bit late to the party, but I would defintely like to buy a copy. I already bought it when it came out, but it was "borrowed". – Verbeia – 2013-01-16T06:34:51.863

I would buy one as well. :) – Stefan – 2013-01-16T07:44:52.967



To download a licensed copy of Power Programming with Mathematica by David B. Wagner, please click here:

Thank you to McGraw-Hill for granting me the license to scan and distribute this out-of-print text to the Mathematica community!

Thank you to Manfred Plagmann (aka matariki) for taking the time to carefully scan the entire text.

Thank you to Sophia Scheibe (aka halirutan's wife) for providing select scans of pages to Manfred to allow him to complete his work.

Thank you to Mr. Wagner for writing this text!

Happy computing everyone! Todd

Todd Allen

Posted 2012-12-17T18:37:35.763

Reputation: 1 964

1Is there an errata page for this book? – Aky – 2013-11-09T10:09:44.460

1I don't know why the original Dropbox link went dead. I have deleted the original link, and updated with a new link that should work now. – Todd Allen – 2014-05-08T20:08:13.383

1First upvote! wheee – s0rce – 2013-04-05T02:22:06.807

Wonderful! Do you have the contents of the floppy disk that came with it? I have some parts of it. The disk was damaged and I couldn't retrieve most of the data. Also, I'm not sure if the same license applies to the book as the floppy. – Szabolcs – 2013-04-05T02:31:26.337

@Szabolcs No, I unfortunately don't have the floppy disk. Come to think of it I don't even have a floppy drive anymore. Maybe someone else in the community has the disk. Todd will most likely be able to answer the license question but as the floppy only includes the programming code that's in the book it shouldn't be much of a problem. – Matariki – 2013-04-05T03:13:01.627

Great stuff! Not sure I can install 2.2 (for MS-DOS) though. – dwa – 2013-04-05T03:18:22.743

10@Mr.Wizard Todd deserves a huge bounty for this, don't you think? ;) – Oleksandr R. – 2013-04-05T09:47:24.090

1If I can figure out how to do it easily, does your license allow for an outline of bookmarks to be included in the pdf? For instance, if I went through and generated the bookmarks for the chapters and subchapters, could you then distribute that? – rcollyer – 2013-04-05T14:42:42.413

1The license grants permission to scan the text (without modification - so, bookmarks are technically out), but has no language referring to the content of the original floppy. I honestly didn't ask about it, because I've never owned a copy of this text, so I didn't realize it came with a floppy. – Todd Allen – 2013-04-06T01:36:15.837

7I can confirm that I have the notebooks and other files from the floppy. They open fine. Subject to us having permission to distribute the files, I am happy to host them on (I don't have a dropbox account, and anyway, the length of time I've hosted Ted Ersek's material shows that I'm a reliable host.) – Verbeia – 2013-04-06T04:39:23.270

@Verbeia any update on the status of being able to host the notebooks & files from the floppy? – Reb.Cabin – 2013-06-29T13:41:29.267

@Reb.Cabin I hadn't heard from Todd Allen about permission to do so. I will ping him. – Verbeia – 2013-06-30T08:03:52.527

2@Verbeia The license has no formal language answering "yes" or "no" to distributing the electronic files. If the files represent content printed in the text, then I think distributing them would be fine. I hesitate to contact McGraw-Hill again, as the first time was less than enjoyable. – Todd Allen – 2013-07-01T01:06:03.040


Exciting news!

After nearly two months of agonizing communication, McGraw-Hill has granted me a license to scan one copy of "Power programming with Mathematica" for the purposes of distributing it (freely) throughout the Mathematica user community here on StackExchange.

First, thanks to everyone for showing support on this .... sorry it took so long.

Secondly, to make this a reality, I need to make contact with someone who is willing to sacrifice an original copy of the text (in good condition). It will be necessary to scan the entire book into a PDF file, and then I am required by the licence agreement to add author & publisher credit information to each page - which I know how to achieve using desktop publishing software that I have.

In the second answer to this question above, a user named Matariki had stated that he had received permission to bulk scan a copy of the book. Does anyone know how to get a hold of him? If anyone else is interested in making this sacrifice for the user community, please contact me at my email address:

Thanks, Todd

Todd Allen

Posted 2012-12-17T18:37:35.763

Reputation: 1 964

1Saw your post mentioned in chat. I have a book in a reasonable condition. So far I have been processing single pages only. My intention is to turn the book into notebooks. I have the image processing done in Mathematica to identify and tag code segments, annotation, normal text etc. I am using Tesseract to do the OCR. Not quite ready for bulk processing yet. However, if we go for a standard scan then I'll go ahead and cut off the spine of the book and get it bulk scanned. I am rather busy at the moment but should be able to get this started next week. What resolution should I aim for? – Matariki – 2013-03-16T04:16:57.473

1For a bulk scan into PDF, I believe any resolution greater than or equal to 150 dpi should be sufficient. My licence only approves the scanning of the text into PDF, so if you are willing to do that for the community, I am sure everyone would be grateful. While I like your idea of turning the book into notebooks, please know that my license does not authorize that. Feel free to email me, Matariki. ( Thanks. – Todd Allen – 2013-03-16T15:01:59.537

I realise that the license isn't including a notebook form. This is just my private little project. I'll see that I can get the scanning on its way next week. I need to find a bookbinder to put the book back together again as this is part of the deal I made with the owner. I'll send regular updates on progress. – Matariki – 2013-03-16T19:18:08.197

Todd, we all owe you a debt of gratitude. Thank you! @Matariki for scanned material, DjVu is generally a better choice of format than PDF. Particularly with the Adobe software, browsing a PDF consisting of the scanned pages of a book can be painfully slow and memory-consuming, whereas DjVu is very fast and convenient. Software such as SumatraPDF (Windows-only; based on MuPDF) can open both formats--although, to be fair, its performance with large PDFs is also nowhere near as bad as the Adobe Reader.

– Oleksandr R. – 2013-03-16T22:08:27.507

@OleksandrR. I'll see if I can find a scanner that provides that format. I agree that scanned PDFs are slow and large. Do you know if there is any good DjVu reader for Mac? Having the scans only available to windows users wouldn't serve the purpose of this exercise. – Matariki – 2013-03-17T00:01:12.993


@Matariki sorry, I don't use a Mac so I don't have software recommendations for that platform. The DjVu specification is an open format and the reference implementation is DjVuLibre, from which a viewer (DjView4) has been implemented and is available for multiple platforms. Whether this is the best option for the Mac platform or if there are better tools available, I don't know. Perhaps for the sake of convenience it would be better to produce the PDF first and then convert to DjVu for those who want it.

– Oleksandr R. – 2013-03-17T06:27:41.567

@Matariki some software that can convert PDF to DjVu is pdf2djvu, for example. Since most scanners provide PDF output but not DjVu this may be the easiest approach.

– Oleksandr R. – 2013-03-17T06:30:56.993

Would it be legal with the given permission to just use one of the ebook versions of this book already floating on the Internet? – Sjoerd C. de Vries – 2013-03-17T07:50:18.480

Thanks for the links Oleksandr. @SjoerdC.deVries do you have a URL where I could find such an ebook? I haven't come across a site where I could actually download/buy the book. I would love to have a look. – Matariki – 2013-03-17T09:12:49.300

@matariki just do a google on ebook and the first three words of the title. Be very aware that some of the sites you may encounter are very dangerous and will try a driveby virus contamination. Preferably work from within a virtual PC or so. – Sjoerd C. de Vries – 2013-03-17T09:16:07.273

@SjoerdC.deVries I have done this in the past but, as you point out, ended up in spooky places not knowing if I would end up with an ebook or just with nasty virus. – Matariki – 2013-03-17T19:24:57.717


I have packaged the electronic files that came on the original floppy and posted them in a ZIP archive on my web site, at:

File size is 119 kb.

Sorry for the delay. Enjoy!


Posted 2012-12-17T18:37:35.763

Reputation: 33 191


Update (01-11-2013)

  1. I've contacted McGraw-Hill and was able to talk to one of the original editors involved in publishing this book. His response is that McGraw-Hill does not have the electronic (i.e. PDF) files necessary to offer this text again by print-on-demand. If the electronic files existed, they would be able to do it, but they can't because the book was published too long ago (1996).

  2. The editor did mention one possible solution to the problem: As a community, we could request permission from McGraw-Hill to photocopy the text (with a potential, as yet unknown fee attached) for our user community. Assuming McGraw-Hill gave permission, we would need someone in our user community that own's a copy of the text (in good condition), and is willing to take on the work of photocopying and distributing it. In essence, users would get a photocopied version suitable for placing in a 3-ring binder. I am willing to help coordinate the effort, but I don't own a copy of the text for photocopying purposes.

So, this brings up more questions:

A. Is there still interest among the users here to request permission from McGraw-Hill to photocopy the text? (I have the contact information to make the request on our behalf.)

B. Does anyone own the text who is willing to be involved with the photocopying and distribution of it?

Sorry I don't have more satisfying news at this moment. If you are still interested, please respond to Questions A & B in the comments section.

Todd Allen

Posted 2012-12-17T18:37:35.763

Reputation: 1 964

1Why can't a scanned PDF be used for the print-on-demand? – P. Fonseca – 2013-01-11T19:42:35.310

McGraw Hill does not have a paper copy of the text left. I did not inquire if we (the user community) could scan it and give that to McGraw Hill for print on demand. I can ask, but let's see what others think first. – Todd Allen – 2013-01-11T20:18:21.693

2I think we should get more info on the possibilities (or degree of freedom) with a scanned copy. Ideal would be that we're allowed to send it out to users of this community. Perhaps we could have a one time payment as a community? If a paper copy is required we could perhaps distribute the copy to several people located in the different countries to keep shipping costs low etc. I'm willing to help this community. – Lou – 2013-01-11T20:23:35.170

8I don't own a book, but here's an idea: We can split up the text into chunks of say 5-10 pages and get people to type it verbatim into a Mathematica notebook. We already spend time plenty of time typing answers for SE; at least this would be for a much bigger cause. If there's interest, we can probably organize this in a dedicated chat room and distribute the task to users who have access to the book. Once everyone is finished (1-2 months), others who don't have access to the book (me) can help with proofreading, verifying examples, typesetting, prettifying it to make it more of a book, etc. – rm -rf – 2013-01-12T00:31:14.693

4(continued...) This way, we have it in an electronic format, with interactive examples/code, searchable/editable notebook for tinkering, etc. Maybe we can even hand that over to McGraw-Hill who can then sell that for a fee, but allows those who put in effort to creating it to have a copy for free. I would be willing to help co-ordinate this effort and help with putting the whole thing together. If there's support for this idea, you can perhaps try contacting McGraw-Hill to see if it'll fly. – rm -rf – 2013-01-12T00:33:46.253

@rm-rf Certainly the very best option! – Lou – 2013-01-12T14:46:51.340

@rm-rf if someone has a copy that they're willing to sacrifice, cutting off the cover and spine and scanning/OCRing the pages before distribution would allow this work to be done by many more people and much more quickly since only OCR mistakes would need to be corrected rather than retyping from scratch. – Oleksandr R. – 2013-01-14T03:05:47.007

@rm-rf I thought the same when this thread came up. The notebook format would be ideal for this book. I have access to a copy but can't cut it to pieces as Oleksandr suggested. I'll do some OCR tests and see how far I get. In case that fails I am certainly happy to type some pages. – Matariki – 2013-01-14T19:00:38.460

@rm-rf I like the idea and I am willing to help in any way. I don't have the book though. – sebhofer – 2013-01-16T14:58:32.963

@Todd Did you ask about the possibility of electronic redistribution? Does anybody know if it's possible to get permission of electronic redistribution from the publisher, or would we need the permission of the author too (whom no one can contact, so that would be a problem). – Szabolcs – 2013-01-17T02:41:40.840

I think just a good quality scanned PDF would be very valuable (using a book scanner---thanks for the idea @rm-rf!) – Szabolcs – 2013-01-17T02:42:17.360

I have taken the first step in asking for permission to scan a copy of the text, with the goal of providing that scan to McGraw-Hill so they can use it to drive a print-on-demand service. Will keep you posted. (today's date 01-17-2013) – Todd Allen – 2013-01-17T20:58:13.960

Did you hear anything back from McG-H, Todd? – rm -rf – 2013-01-31T23:01:08.340

I have permission to cut the spine off one of the books in order to bulk scan its pages as long as I put it back together again. – Matariki – 2013-02-01T06:20:09.423

McGraw-Hill had instructed me to submit my request for permission to scan the text by email. Alas, that was 16 days ago. I have not heard back from them. I will call this week and try to "shake the tree." – Todd Allen – 2013-02-03T00:32:11.257

Called McGraw-Hill today (02-05). They have received my request, but are backlogged in work. Was promised a response in 3-4 weeks from the date of the original request, which should put a response no later than next week (02-15). Will keep advised. – Todd Allen – 2013-02-05T20:28:44.880


I have scanned today an randomly chosen page (157) from the book to get a first feeling of how to tackle the problem. I ran it through the OCR software that comes with the VueScan scanner application. I had to use a rather high scan resolution of 600 dpi to minimize recognition errors. Has anyone experience with some better OCR software than those freebees that come with scanners? The recognized text file is below:

Pattern Building Blocks 1 57
That got rid ofthe constant diff[3 x"2 - 2 x + 1, x]
term in the previous result. 2
-2 diff[x, X] + 3 diff[x , x]
The derivative of X’ is n2("1. Note that the use of “n_ . ” for the exponent means that
the first parameter also matches the expression xx
diff[x_"n_., x_] /; FreeQ[n, x] := n x"(n - 1)
Sofarsogood... diff[3 x"2 — 2 x + 1, x]
-2 + 6 x
but diff doesn't work on diff[(x + 1)"2, X]
expressions of this form. 2
diff[(l + x) , X]
We need to implement the chain rule. Below, fx is a mnemonic for “function of x.”
diff[fx_"n_, x_] /; FreeQ[n, x] && !FreeQ[fx, x] :=
n * fx"(n - 1) * diff[fx. x]
diff[(x + 1)"2. x]
2 (1 + x)
diff[(x"2 + 2 x + 1)"3, x]
3 <2 + 2 X) (1 + 2 X + X2)2
Chain rule seems to eliminate the need for the power rule, so we might try to UnSet
the latter:
Note that I0 UnSet 3 ru|e, diff [x_"n_, , x_] /; FreeQ [n , x] =,
the left-hand side must be
typed verbatim, including 7 diff
conditions. G loba 1‘ di f f
diff[(c_)*(f_), x_] /; FreeQ[c, x] := c*diff[f, x]
diff[(f_) + (g_), x_] := diff[f, x] + diff[g, X]
diff[c_, x_] /; FreeQ[c, x] := 0
diff[(fx_)"(n_). x_] /:
FreeQ[n, x] && !FreeQ[fx, x] :=
n*fx"(n — l)*diff[fx, x]
Unfortunately, our rules now leave out one important case: diff [x , x] .
diff[(x"2 + 2 x + 1)"3, x]
3 (1 + 2 X + X2)2 (2 diff[x, X] + 2 X diff[x, X])
This is easily fixed by the following simple rule:

There are still a few misses. In particular the ^ is interpreted as ". Exponents of output cells end up somewhere else etc. The annotations Wagner uses on the left margin are also, as expected, interspersed with the following line. However, after deleting all output cells it was a matter of a few minutes to clean up the page and recreate the output cells. Certainly possible to do and the result will be much more useful than a photocopy.

enter image description here


Posted 2012-12-17T18:37:35.763

Reputation: 3 162

Occasionally I use Adobe Acrobat for OCR, which is not so bad, but I have never tested it on complex stuff. – Yves Klett – 2013-01-16T07:13:18.820

@YvesKlett Thanks, I'll see if Acrobat works better. – Matariki – 2013-01-16T17:18:09.647

Good news! Please see this answer from Todd. He's trying to get in touch with you

– rm -rf – 2013-03-16T02:09:48.380

@rm-rf Thanks, just saw it in chat. – Matariki – 2013-03-16T04:19:36.470