I am about to post an "Answer your own question" question in the Mathematica SE in response to a previously posted question whose answers all concluded that 'it isn't possible'. 'It' is possible. I figured 'it' out.

The best version of that solution includes 3rd party tools (software) working in conjunction with Mathematica.

Is it acceptable to present a solution on the Mathematica SE site that includes 3rd party tools as part of the solution? Or, do all solutions need to be Mathematica/Wolfram Language only solutions?

  • 10
    I would posit that it's fine. I am pretty sure I've answered questions in this manner before.
    – Carl Lange
    Commented Aug 10, 2020 at 21:40
  • 8
    I would agree that doing so is fine, so long as the answer relies primarily on Mathematica.
    – bbgodfrey
    Commented Aug 11, 2020 at 0:31
  • The 'ayes' have it. Thank you all for taking the time to comment. I will create my post. Topic foreshadow: 'Sending real-time MIDI messages to VST host from Mathematica notebook - i.e. playing algorithmic Mathematica-generated music composition on external virtual instruments, in real-time.
    – Steve
    Commented Aug 12, 2020 at 16:30

2 Answers 2


If the answer, as the OP describes it, uses an external tool to solve a problem, that seems ok (even if it costs money, with appropriate disclosure). It may not help everybody, but it will help some. It may not get many votes if the solution is not easy to check.

If the answer were merely a solution in MATLAB, or Python, or C, or whatever, then in almost all cases, I would vote to delete, since this is a site for questions about how to do things with Mathematica. There are sites (e.g. StackOverflow) for asking for solutions for other languages/systems or general programming problems, but presumably a question here is about Mathematica specifically.

A common exception is the use of something like Maple to compare with the performance of Integrate/DSolve. For the purpose of comparison, this seems acceptable. Sometimes the answer simply presents the answer so the OP might use it in their work/research. Strictly viewed, I think this falls into my first case. But I tolerate such an answer, and no one else AFAIR objects to them either. In its defense I can offer two points.

  • Integration is hard, and getting an answer in any way is such a kindness to the OP that it seems mean-spirited to deny it. A programming problem that cannot be solved in Mathematica alone would deserve a similar consideration.
  • The fact that the integration can be performed computationally in another system is evidence that it might be possible to do it in Mathematica. Sometimes you have to tweak things to get Integrate/DSolve to work out the answer, and the evidence will encourage others to try.

The consensus appears to be that this is fine, provided that the answer follows the usual guidelines.

(My personal opinion follows)

Bear in mind that users may not have any experience at all of computing beyond Mathematica (I'm sure this happens) so I think when answering in this way it's important to make it as simple and easily-followed as possible. So, the answer doesn't read like "Use GDAL to do that", but rather, "Here is how to use GDAL to do that".

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