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MathGroup Archive 1992

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Re: What should Mathematica be?

  • To: mathgroup at yoda.physics.unc.edu
  • Subject: Re: What should Mathematica be?
  • From: weller at vuse.vanderbilt.edu
  • Date: Wed, 25 Nov 92 11:30:34 CST

I will have to take a position with Hay from the UK on this one.

Mathematica is not just for trolls.  It should continue to develop
along the lines of an "n's Work Bench" where n=Physicist, Engineer, etc.

The distinction made by a previous correspondent between the kernel and
the interface is crucial.  Notebooks are important teaching tools
for both the University and professional environment.  It should be
possible to create documents which pass a minimal test of clarity and
quality both in typography and graphics.

I don't mean to imply that a full postscript editor is needed, but it
should be as easy to make your results presentable visually and in
print as it is to create them.  Anything less defeats the "workbench"
concept.

It seems mildly insulting to suggest that WRI is not capable of keeping
two objectives in mind at once. As MathLink becomes the default
kernel/front-end communication device, one could even imagine a future
with two front ends from WRI, one (presumably cheap) for persons who are
indifferent to the appearance of their work or who never show it
to anyone else, and another (less cheap) for persons who occasionally
would like to communicate with students or colleagues.

WRI is, after all, a business.  The more abstract a package, the fewer
people who need or care about it.  Would it be impertinent to
suggest that while WRI is making Mathematica in its present form more
robust and generally useful, interested mathgroup readers might consider
solving their own problems?  Writing elegant packages to do specific
tasks, such as asymptotic expansions or whatever, could confer
satisfaction, glory and even riches.  Perhaps along the way, it might
become clear why it is important to be able to generate good documentation.

Robert A. Weller
Materials Science/Physics
Vanderbilt University





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