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on "Some Elements of Mathematica Design" by Stephen Wolfram

  • To: sw at uunet.UU.NET
  • Subject: on "Some Elements of Mathematica Design" by Stephen Wolfram
  • From: msdrl!nachbar at uunet.UU.NET (Dr. Robert B. Nachbar)
  • Date: Wed, 8 Jul 92 11:33:22 EDT
  • Cc: mathgroup at uunet.UU.NET (Mathematica mailing list)

I have just read your article in the commentary column of the recent
issue of Mathematica Journal, and certainly do understand the design
issues you discuss as I have been involved with system design and user
interface design for molecular modeling programs here at Merck. Because
I have begun to write some of my own packages for Mathematica, I have
also had to consider design issues in this context. In particular,
a little over half way through your article you cover "... designing
a function that will use a sequence of data points," which I recently
had to deal with, and agree completely with your remarks from a
theoretical point of view. However, from a practical standpoint, you
(and your developers) have solved this problem, but the solution is
not generally available (at least I haven't come across it in your
book), and you did not provide example code in your article or the
electronic supplement. Life is too short to reinvent the wheel, especially
one so fundemental as this one.

What's to be done? Version 2.2 could include some developers' tools
to support these design priciples, but that's many months away. In the
shorter term, while perusing the package Statistics`LinearRegression`, I
came across the function GetData that does just what you describe user
written functions should do! Can I pirate this small piece of code? I
suspect not because the header lines of the file contain:

  Copyright (c) 1990, Wolfram Research, Inc.

So close, yet so far!

I welcome your response, and if you will permit, I'll forward it to
the MathGroup mailing list.

Respectfully yours,

Bob Nachbar 
Dr. Robert B. Nachbar
nachbar at

Merck Research Laboratories, R50S-100
PO Box 2000
Rahway, NJ 07065

908/594-7795, FAX 908/594-4224

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