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MathGroup Archive 1992

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on "Some Elements of Mathematica Design" by Stephen Wolfram

  • To: mathgroup at uunet.uu.net (Mathematica mailing list)
  • Subject: on "Some Elements of Mathematica Design" by Stephen Wolfram
  • From: msdrl!nachbar at uunet.uu.net (Dr. Robert B. Nachbar)
  • Date: Wed, 25 Nov 92 8:44:45 EDT

I have recently read Stephen Wolfram's article in the commentary column
of a recent issue of Mathematica Journal (volume 2, number2), and
certainly do understand the design issues he discussed 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
his article he covers "... designing a function that will use a
sequence of data points," which I recently had to deal with, and agree
completely with his remarks from a theoretical point of view. However,
from a practical standpoint, he (and his developers) have solved this
problem, but the solution is not generally available (at least I
haven't come across it in his book), and he did not provide example
code in the 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 he described
user written functions should do! Can I pirate this small piece of
code? I suspect not because the header lines of the file contain:

(*:Legal: Copyright (c) 1990, Wolfram Research, Inc. *)

So close, yet so far!

So what is the consensus about "borrowing" code from packages provided
with the product to develop new products? Is there support for a
package of developers' tools?

Bob Nachbar
-- 
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            |





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