This post is part of the Orgmode Almanac series.


I have been wanting to find a workflow which allows me to bypass writing a lot of TeX by hand for a while now. To that end I looked into using a computer algebra system (CAS). Naturally, my first choice was the FOSS Maxima (also because it uses Lisp under the hood). However, for all the reasons listed here, relating to its accuracy, which have not been fixed even though the post was over 5 years ago, I ended up having to go with the closed source Mathematica.


Support for Mathematica in modern orgmode is mainly through the use of ob-mathematica, which is the official org-babel extension (from contrib) for working with Mathematica. However, ob-mathematica relies on the now-defunct mma package for font-locking, which is less than ideal. Thankfully, there exists the excellent wolfram-mode package which happens to be in MELPA as well. Finally, since the default return type of a mathematica block is an input-string meant to be used in another mathematica block, which is not useful when we work with org-babel, we will use the excellent utility from here, as suggested by the ob-mathematica package to sanitize our output and set a unifying path.

So to recap, use your favorite manager to get:

After obtaining the packages, the configuration is then simply2:

 1;; Load mathematica from contrib
 2(org-babel-do-load-languages 'org-babel-load-languages
 3                             (append org-babel-load-languages
 4                                     '((mathematica . t))
 5                                     ))
 6;; Sanitize output and deal with paths
 7(setq org-babel-mathematica-command "~/.local/bin/mash")
 8;; Font-locking
 9(add-to-list 'org-src-lang-modes '("mathematica" . wolfram))
10;; For wolfram-mode
11(setq mathematica-command-line "~/.local/bin/mash")



Now we are in a position to simply evaluate content with font-locking. We will test our set up with an example lifted from the ob-mathematica source-code.

Table 1: A table
1(1+Transpose@x) // TeXForm

Where our header-line (with #+begin_src) is:

1mathematica :var x=example-table :results latex

Sanity Checks

We can also test the example from the blog post earlier to test basic mathematical sanity.

1Limit[Log[b - a + I eta], eta -> 0, Direction -> -1,Assumptions -> {a > 0, b > 0, a > b}]
2TeXForm[Limit[Log[b - a + I eta], eta -> 0, Direction -> 1,Assumptions -> {a > 0, b > 0, a > b}]]

\((I*Pi + Log[a - b])*\log (a-b)-i \pi\)

Inline Math

Note that we can now also write fractions, integrals and other cumbersome TeX objects a lot faster with this syntax, like \(\frac{x^3}{3}\). Where we are using the following snippet:

1src_mathematica[:exports none :results raw]{Integrate[x^2,x] // TeXForm}


For plots, the standard orgmode rules apply, that is, we have to export to a file and return the name through our code snippet. Consider:

1p=Plot[Sin[x], {x, 0, 6 Pi},Frame->True];
Figure 1: An exported Mathematica image

Figure 1: An exported Mathematica image

Where we have used mathematica :results file as our header line.

  1. As noted in the comments, it is nicer to rename to mash ↩︎

  2. For reference, my whole config is here ↩︎

Series info

Orgmode Almanac series

  1. Replacing Jupyter with Orgmode
  2. Using Mathematica with Orgmode <-- You are here!
  3. Pandoc to Orgmode with Babel
  4. An Orgmode Note Workflow
  5. Temporary LaTeX Documents with Orgmode
  6. Anki Decks with Orgmode