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MathGroup Archive 1997

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Re: Useful Dumb User Questions

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg9042] Re: Useful Dumb User Questions
  • From: tburton at cts.com (Tom Burton)
  • Date: Thu, 9 Oct 1997 01:42:21 -0400
  • Organization: Brahea Consulting
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at wolfram.com

Comments on a thoughtful posting by Mark Evans:

It's hard to argue with most of Mark Evans' post.  After two years, I am
finally comfortable with Mathematica most of the time. I do wonder,
though, whether a comparison with a calculator is fair. It took me
several years to learn Fortran well, several more years to learn C
reasonably well, and Mathematica intervened before I got over the hump
with C++; I've now forgotten most of it. (And to hell with Java (^_^))
Perhaps these programming languages are better yardsticks.

Another yardstick: I dabbled more easily in MatLab than in Mathematica,
but I find advanced operations more confusing in MatLab, which appears
to be structured less well.

Still, Mathematica is not intuitive to some of us (I'm a mechanical
engineer). I struggle to present notebooks to colleagues and clients in
ways that they will like, and I hope to pick up some relevant advice at
the upcoming Developers' Conference.

I also hope there is a bit of sarcasm is Mark's use of "wizard", because
I believe that the few true wizards responding in this group are on the
whole polite and helpful--more so than some of the other respondents.
Taking Mark's main message to heart, in those rare cases where I can
help, I'll try a little harder with new users.

To benefit from this group, one should be willing to read the extensive
documentation of Mathematica and learn the underlying mathematics.
These demands go far beyond those of your average calculator, but so do
the rewards.
Tom Burton


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