Beating the software jungle. Selecting the economics software of the future
Currently there is a jungle of software for economics, for both professional and educational software, and including the supportive mathematics and statistics. A comparison of 1993 showed and now in 1999 shows again - at least to this author - that Mathematica is the most useful and promising software, both for its elegant language and its breadth of application. A problem with Mathematica is its current price of about $1500 for a professional licence. Part of the solution would be to separate the language and interface and the engine. Once the Mathematica language is adopted as the lingua franca of science software, for which there are no legal barriers, there can be competition in front ends, interpreters and compilers. Another part of the solution in the short term would be coherent and determined discussion of the economics community (software users and purchasing departments) with Wolfram Research Inc. (WRI), the makers of Mathematica. Also, as there might still be a (natural or lock in) monopoly, there could be regulatory action that creates a public service utility. WRI could name its price for becoming a public utility company, and we might see whether Mathematica users are willing to pay that.
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