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What should Mma be?

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: What should Mma be?
  • From: wiscombe at (Warren Wiscombe)
  • Date: Fri, 20 Nov 92 11:29:26 -0500

Dear MathGroup:

  There have been a flurry of questions on this group concerning fonts,
typesetting, getting plot labels just so, and so on that seem to be
torquing Mma in a direction I would be sad to see it go:  a complete
concerned about this and would like to speak out, so that WRI doesn't think
we all agree that is the direction Mma should go.

  I would prefer to see Mma remain a prototyping environment.  I don't care
if my plot labels look crummy, or if they can't be done in a special font
(although Greek would be nice to have, throughout Mma and not just for plot
decoration), or if I can't submit my Mma notebook immediately for
publication.  Mma-to-TeX translators are nice, but I would much prefer to
see Mma resources poured into more and better packages that do real
mathematics, like asymptotics (a notable lacuna) or better recognition of
ODE forms that are reducible to known forms.  To me, Mma is a place to do
mathematics, like a pencil and paper in days of old.  I would hate to see
it become feature-laden in the area of presentation; this to me violates
the whole spirit of the enterprise.

  If I want fancily-annotated graphs, I have much better tools than Mma to
do them.  So do all of you.  When you are ready to 'go to press', output
some results from Mma as tables of numbers and read them into a
presentation program.

  I think nothing less than the very nature of Mma, and of its development
effort, is at stake here.  What do you think?

Dr. Warren J. Wiscombe, DAAC Project Scientist
NASA Goddard, Code 913, Greenbelt, MD 20771

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