what should Mathematica be?
- To: mathgroup at yoda.physics.unc.edu (Mathematica mailing list)
- Subject: what should Mathematica be?
- From: msdrl!nachbar at uunet.uu.net (Dr. Robert B. Nachbar)
- Date: Tue, 8 Dec 92 9:07:56 EDT
when the first note about possible directions for development of Mathematica hit this mailing list, i sided with the author for more math, more science, more engineering. since that time, many users have responded both pro and con for "presentation" capabilities. it seems to me that the root of the matter is COMMUNICATION. Mathematica has to be able to communicate with its user. this stream of information is bidirectional. it has to be productive. for the most part wri has a very good product. the Mathematica language (is it officially "m"?) is compact yet not overly terse and cryptic (as, for example, one might say about UNIX). sure, there are niggling thing about graphics on the different frontends (e.g., rotated text is not fully transformed in the macintosh frontend), but overall Mathematica does an outstanding job. but each man/woman is not an island. we have to communicate with our bosses, students, deans, chairmen/women, customers, clients, professional peers, .... to this end, there does need to be some improvement. this does not mean that one has to go to the extreme and build in the ability to make "chart junk" (see Tufte, "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information" and "Envisioning Information"). All of the human languages are rich in expression, and english has borrowed much from many languages, and it is natural for us to want to be that expressive in our written and graphic communication. it is indeed difficult and painful to "squeeze math throught a keyboard," as it was expressed in this forum recently. personal computers and workstations have become very powerful, and the graphic display can show math (and science and engineering etc.) in a meaningful and efficient (that is productive) way. what we need to do is develop a means of expressing ourselves to our computer programs that is natural for us and unambiguous for the machines. let the computer count the points, picas, inches, and centimeters. wri has many talented people, and i am confident that they can build the tools we need so that using Mathematica will become as easy as using pencil and paper. bob --- Dr. Robert B. Nachbar | Merck Research Laboratories | 908/594-7795 nachbar at msdrl.com | R50S-100 | 908/594-4224 FAX | PO Box 2000 | | Rahway, NJ 07065 |