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MathGroup Archive 1998

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Re: Re: Re: declaring integers

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg13174] Re: [mg13133] Re: [mg13063] Re: declaring integers
  • From: David Withoff <withoff>
  • Date: Mon, 13 Jul 1998 07:42:23 -0400
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at wolfram.com

> Dave Withoff asks:
>
> >In particular, are there any essential features of Scheme (other
> >than generating errors for undefined procedures) that you can't find in
> >Mathematica?
> >
> >Dave
>
> Since you ask...
>
> Scheme has call-with-current-continuation.  Mathematica has nothing that
> even approaches this incredibly powerful function.
>
> Scheme, like other versions of Lisp, allows the creation of macros.
> Using macros, you can turn it into whatever language you want.
>
> Will Self
> Montana

I asked that question in the context of the original topic, which
involved whether there was anything about the design of Mathematica
that affects its suitability as an environment for "declaring variable
types", and whether there were features of other languages that might
be relevant in that discussion.

A general Scheme vs. Mathematica debate (if you really want to pursue
it) is perhaps best handled separately, as that seems rather far afield
from the original topic (see the Subject line), and for that purpose it
would be good to establish some ground rules to avoid interminable
"what about feature X" debates, and arguments about the definition of
"powerful". The whole "continuation" issue would be particularly
sticky, as some people think this is just the most clever and powerful
concept since the invention of the electronic computer, and other
equally well-informed people think it so goofy that anyone who sees a
need for it should rethink their programming style.  I expect that
elucidating these disagreements and avoiding the associated religious
issues would be a formidable task, and I am not optimistic that it
would be worth the effort.  To keep things manageable the discussion
should probably be confined to simple, specific examples that are
easily understood and that arguably do something useful.

Dave Withoff
Wolfram Research


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