This is documentation for Mathematica 5.2, which was
based on an earlier version of the Wolfram Language.
View current documentation (Version 11.2)

Your First Mathematica Calculations

You can use Mathematica just like a calculator. Type your input, press ShiftKeyKeyBarEnterKey, and Mathematica returns the answer.

See "Tour of Mathematica" in the Help Browser or in The Mathematica Book for a quick look at some of Mathematica's capabilities.

Type the input 9.7^200 and press ShiftKeyKeyBarEnterKey.

Here is the result.

Here is an example from algebra. The first bracket after the function name Factor is a special color until the closing bracket is typed.

Some Mathematica conventions

Built-in functions are capitalized. Arguments to functions are wrapped with square brackets.

Each of these represents multiplication:
a*b aSpaceKeyb a(b+1)
2x means 2*x.

These are standard arithmetic operations:

Uppercase and lowercase letters are recognized as different characters. Lists are wrapped with curly brackets.
{a, b, B}

Built-in symbols are capitalized. Commas are used to separate arguments. A semicolon suppresses output, but the command is still evaluated.
N[Pi, 50];

Variables are usually lowercased. Entire words can be used.
x = 5
xvalue = 3

Integrate is just one of over a thousand built-in Mathematica functions.

Plot3D produces a three-dimensional plot.

Graphics appear directly in your notebook.

Bullet For information about a function, type ?, the function name, and press ShiftKeyKeyBarEnterKey.
Bullet You can use palettes to enter mathematical notation. See
Using Palettes for more information.
Bullet You can use Greek letters or other mathematical symbols as variables. See Entering Mathematical Notation for more information.
Bullet To abort a calculation, press AltKeyLeftModified.RightModified on Windows, CloverLeafLeftModified.RightModified on Macintosh, or Mod1KeyLeftModified.RightModified on Unix. On Unix, to find out which keys represent Mod1 and Mod2, choose Help RightTriangle Environment Information. Typically the AltKey key represents Mod1.
Bullet To complete a given command name, press ControlKeyLeftModifiedKRightModified on Windows, CloverLeafLeftModifiedKRightModified on Macintosh, or ControlKeyLeftModifiedKRightModified on Unix.
Bullet To see a template, press ShiftKeyKeyBarControlKeyLeftModifiedKRightModified on Windows, ShiftKeyKeyBarCloverLeafLeftModifiedKRightModified on Macintosh, or ShiftKeyKeyBarControlKeyLeftModifiedKRightModified on Unix.

For more information
Bullet The Mathematica Book, Part 1:
A Practical Introduction to Mathematica.