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MathGroup Archive 1989

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Re: Bug reports on MathGroup (long)

  • To: mathgroup
  • Subject: Re: Bug reports on MathGroup (long)
  • From: sdoyle at fed.frb.gov
  • Date: Mon, 8 May 89 12:00:08 CDT
  • Relpy-to: stevec@ncsa.uiuc.edu

I've sent several bug/feature reports to Steve Christensen, who in turn
has forwarded these to the MathGroup list. Some of these problems appear
only on a particular version of Mathematica or a particular machine. This
led Richard Fateman to ask:

>                              [...] since only WRI has access to source,
>   what point is there to telling us all about such bugs?

Well, I think that the current policy of posting differences between 
1.1 and 1.2 or between different machines is a good one, although I
also partially agree with Richard. Many of the people on this list are more 
interested in computer algebra or algorithm design, and not difficulties
of specific implementations of those algorithms. Even if they were 
(as Richard points out), the non-WRI members of the group don't have
access to the source code, so their advice might be of limited use.
Finally, some (perhaps naive) readers of MathGroup might interpret
a bug report as a signal that Mathematica was not a good software
package (and it IS a very good package!).

Since Richard made a good case for limiting the types of bugs 
posted to MathGroup, I'll present some reasons for the other side:

(1)	Users may have encountered some of the same problems and
	have figured out some work-arounds. From my point of view, it
	doesn't matter if the problem is Sun's or WRI's... but if 
	someone on MathGroup can describe the problem in a consisent
	way then we are all better off.

(2)	I like to know the limits of the programming environment
	that I'm working in.  Sometimes these limits are specific
	to an implementation, sometimes not. I assume that others 
	might share this interest.

(3)	I tried to explain in my posting the point of what the function
	of the program was (polynomials used as operators), and this seemed
	like a generic enough problem that I was sure that someone else
	had already solved it in a clean way.  I often learn a great
	deal by watching these sort of conversations on the net... 

(4)  	I usually interpret bug reports/problems with packages as a 
	positive signal. It means that people are really using the
	package and pushing it into areas where the designers might
	not have anticipated it being applied.

	(Of course, others could have interpreted my posting in a different
	light. If so, I apologize to WRI. )


These are my reasons for keeping MathGroup's posting policy in its present 
form. 

But... I've been wrong before. 	:-)



 Sean Doyle     Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System 
 20 and Constitution, NW Mail Stop 76  Washington, DC 20551
 (202) 452-2352 uucp: uunet!fed!m1swd00 , internet: sdoyle at fed.frb.gov


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