December 19, 2014


Mathematica is a software package used for communicating scientific ideas in a variety of ways, whether this is visualization of a concept in an intro-level course, or creating a simulation of a new idea related to research.

Mathematica is available for free to UAB faculty, staff and students.

How to Get Mathematica

Campus machines

Follow the directions below to download software from Wolfram and request the appropriate activation key. If you do not have administrator access to your machine, please contact your IT support for assistance.

  1. Create an account (New users only):
    1. Go to and click "Create Account"
    2. Fill out form using a email, and click "Create Wolfram ID"
    3. Check your email and click the link to validate your Wolfram ID
  2. Request the download and key:
    1. Fill out this form to request an Activation Key
    2. Click the "Product Summary page" link to access your license
    3. Click "Get Downloads" and select "Download" next to your platform
    4. Run the installer on your machine, and enter Activation Key at prompt

Computer labs

  • UAB College of Arts & Sciences, contact IT at: 205-975-4500,,
  • All other labs, contact AskIT at: 205-996-5555,,

Faculty and staff personally-owned machines

Fill out this form to request a home-use license from Wolfram.

Student personally-owned machines

Follow the directions below to download from the Wolfram User Portal.

  1. Create an account (New users only):
    1. Go to and click "Create Account"
    2. Fill out form using a email, and click "Create Wolfram ID"
    3. Check your email and click the link to validate your Wolfram ID
  2. Request the download and key:
    1. Fill out this form to request an Activation Key
    2. Click the "Product Summary page" link to access your license
    3. Click "Get Downloads" and select "Download" next to your platform
    4. Run the installer on your machine, and enter Activation Key at prompt

Are you interested in putting Mathematica elsewhere? Please let IT or Troy Schaudt at Wolfram Research know.

Mathematica Tutorials

The first two tutorials are excellent for new users, and can be assigned to students as homework to learn Mathematica outside of class time.

Follow along in Mathematica as you watch this multi-part screencast that teaches you the basics—how to create your first notebook, calculations, visualizations, interactive examples, and more.

Provides examples to help you get started with new functionality in Mathematica 10, including machine learning, computational geometry, geographic computation, and device connectivity.

Access step-by-step instructions ranging from how to create animations to basic syntax information.

Search Wolfram's large collection of materials for example calculations or tutorials in your field of interest.

Teaching with Mathematica

Mathematica offers an interactive classroom experience that helps students explore and grasp concepts, plus gives faculty the tools they need to easily create supporting course materials, assignments, and presentations.

Resources for Educators

Learn how to make your classroom dynamic with interactive models, explore computation and visualization capabilities in Mathematica that make it useful for teaching practically any subject at any level, and get best-practice suggestions for course integration.

Learn how to create a slideshow for class that shows a mixture of graphics, calculations, and nicely formatted text, with live calculations or animations.

Download pre-built, open-code examples from a daily-growing collection of interactive visualizations, spanning a remarkable range of topics.

Access on-demand and live courses on Mathematica, SystemModeler, and other Wolfram technologies.

Research with Mathematica

Rather than requiring different toolkits for different jobs, Mathematica integrates the world's largest collection of algorithms, high-performance computing capabilities, and a powerful visualization engine in one coherent system, making it ideal for academic research in just about any discipline.

Resources for researchers

Explore Mathematica's high-level and multi-paradigm programming language, support for parallel computing and GPU architectures, built-in functionality for specialized application areas, and multiple publishing and deployment options for sharing your work.

Learn how to create programs that take advantage of multicore machines or available clusters.

Learn what areas of Mathematica are useful for specific fields.

Comparison between Mathematica and Matlab

In general, Mathematica is a high-level complete system, while MatLab is a low-level core with specialist toolboxes. Most engineering colleges at research universities maintain both products, including UAB. Because MatLab has separate toolboxes, each toolbox can only assume the functionality of the basic, core system; Mathematica is an all-in-one software which is interconnected nicely. For example, in Mathematica, purely numeric commands can perform symbolic pre-processing for richer and more accurate results, which is not possible in MatLab because of the design. This overall concept applies to the vast majority of Mathematica’s commands when compared to MatLab.

Engineers and other groups on campus value the following functionality, which is unique to Mathematica:

  • Very sophisticated symbolic algorithms for closed-form solutions to problems
  • Much easier to create mouse-driven interfaces to visualize variations in equations or simulations,
  • The highest quality and most accurate graphics engine available for symbolic and numeric graphics,
  • Support for both machine precision and arbitrary precision,
  • Automatic switching between algorithms for best results,
  • Solves any order ODE (rather than only first-order in MatLab),
  • Integration for any n-dimensions (rather than only 3 in MatLab),
  • Wolfram Language included to program in procedural, functional, object-oriented, or rule-based style makes language easier to learn (rather than procedural only in MatLab),
  • Mathematica’s high-level language requires less code to develop algorithms or ideas than MatLab
  • Text and equation typesetting document interface with slideshow mode (not available in MatLab),
  • Load-on-demand data sets to use in addition to importing a wide variety of types of data
  • IDE based on Eclipse, which researchers more commonly know and work with (rather than MatLab’s home-grown IDE).
  • Import of MatLab data sets supported for high-quality rendering of MatLab results in Mathematica

To learn more about Matlab and access it, click here.

Support for Mathematica

Windows installation instructions

Mac OS X installation instructions

Linux installation instructions

Mathematica is available for free to UAB faculty, staff and students, thanks to funding from UAB IT.

For assistance with using the Mathematica software:

Current users of MATLAB are required to UPDATE the current license on their desktop before Feb 1, 2013. To update MATLAB, open MATLAB and do following:


  • click on Help and then Licensing and then UPDATE.  
  • MATLAB will take a couple minutes to connect to the MATLAB License center and download an update license file to the users desktop.


For more information on MATLAB see

The Campus agreement with Microsoft covers a certain set of software on a campus-wide basis... software such as MS Office that is used by almost everyone on campus.  The Campus agreement is an annual term 'site license' based on the number of faculty/staff/students covered. The Campus agreement requires renewal and payment annually to remain in effect.

The Select agreement with MS is basically a volume discount arrangement for software products not included in the Campus agreement.  These products are not widely installed, but more limited to use in certain departments or on specific systems such as servers. UAB projects an annual purchase volume (by category, not by software title) and MS provides discounts based on that projection.  Should UAB not meet the annual projections future pricing would be based on the actual level of purchases from the prior year.usually at a reduced level of discount.  Most product purchased under the Select agreement is granted as a perpetual license with a single upfront payment. No annual renewal fee is required to continue to use the software, but maintenance/support is available as an option.

See the Microsoft Agreement link for more information on what is available under the Campus and Select agreements.

Every UAB faculty, staff, and student (where applicable) is responsible for adhering to software copyright laws and license rights.  While IT Software Licensing will ensure that appropriate licensing information is published for products included on the IT web site, it is the responsibility of each school, department, faculty/staff member, and student to maintain accurate records for all software installed on their systems.  Records should include the software title, date and source of the purchase (including software acquired through this web site or AskIT), and where installed.  For software not covered under a UAB site license, a sales order/invoice or the original physical media/license key would qualify as proof of a valid license.  Note that only one method can be used for any one software title as proof, not a combination of the two for the same application.

Communicate to everyone in your area the need to understand and follow the rights granted by the license.

  • Don't use one licensed copy to install a program on multiple systems.
  • Don't make unauthorized copies of disks for distribution.
  • Don't use UAB software at home unless the license specifically allows it.
  • Don't use software after the expiration of the license.
  • Don't take advantage of upgrade offers without having a legal copy of an earlier, upgradeable version of the software.
  • KEEP ACCURATE RECORDS of all software purchased/installed in your area.

Q: I use MS Project (example) on my computer and I have a copy of the media.  My colleague also needs Project on her system.  I know she is planning on placing an order for the software next week. Can I loan her my media to install so she can begin working immediately?

A: No, for MS Project that would be a violation of your license.  Your colleague must have her own license prior to installing the software. For other titles such as MS Office covered under the Campus agreement loaning media would be acceptable. If in doubt contact AskIT for guidance.

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