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Re: Absolute coordinates in Mathematica

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  • Subject: [mg12850] Re: [mg12715] Absolute coordinates in Mathematica
  • From: Sean Ross <seanross at>
  • Date: Wed, 17 Jun 1998 00:27:53 -0400
  • References: <>
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

Jacek Pliszka wrote:

> > 3.  Mathematica is a programming language, not a program.  It is grossly
> > unfair and counterproductive to compare mathematica to a special purpose
> > graphing program like gnuplot or Axum etc.  Instead of looking for
> > built-in ways to do something, write a little program yourself.
> It is not. gnuplot or paw are also programable and plotting
> in them is much easier and more intuitive. If Wolfram puts so much stress
> on GUI why is it so weak in conveninet plotting?
> Regards,
> Jacek Pliszka

The small amount of programmability in niche programs like gnuplot is
not even in the same league with a programming language like
mathematica.  I stress again that if you insist on thinking of
mathematica as a program rather than a programming language, you are in
for a lot of disappointment and frustration.  The Wolfram corporations
marketing division is famous for exaggerating and mis-stating
mathematicas capabilities.  The advertising literature often sounds as
if Mathematica is a program that is so convenient to use, but it is
not.  It is an interpreted object oriented programming language with a
ton of built in subroutines for numerical, symbolic and graphing, but
in many cases these are critically flawed in one way or another and one
must resort to the core graphics language of mathemtica--graphics
primitives.  The real benefit to mathematica is that you can spend your
time learning one core programming language rather than learning a
dozen command line interfaces for niche programs like gnuplot and then
still having to maintain proficiency in C++ or Fortran to get your
technical computing done.

I am replying to your comments only because I have seen so many
mathematica beginners waste a lot of time expecting mathematica to be
something it is not, usually being mislead by the advertising
literature.  Save yourself the time and frustration--adopt the mindset
that this is a new programming language that just happens to have some
limited graphing subroutines built in that will probably not have the
particular options you are looking for and that you will have to
program them in yourself.  With this as your mindset, you will spend
less time cursing Wolfram and more time solving your problem and
learning the programming language.

Wolfram doesn't put so much emphasis on GUI.  The "frontend" is an
extremely weak GUI and is, itself written in mathematica and C++. 
Mathematica is still, very much a command driven programming language. 
Having a notebook style front end hasn't really changed that central

As far as graphics in specific go, all the built in *Plot* functions
convert a set of data into a SurfaceGraphics, or Graphics object in
terms of graphics primitives.  If you want an effect that is not built
in, then haul out the primitives and do it yourself.

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