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Re: The Essence of Mathematica

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  • Subject: [mg37148] Re: The Essence of Mathematica
  • From: Tom Burton <tburton at>
  • Date: Sun, 13 Oct 2002 05:56:34 -0400 (EDT)
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at


On 10/12/02 2:10 AM, in article ao8our$bos$1 at, "Steven"
<hattons at> wrote:

> I'm attempting to identify the essential aspects of Mathematica.  I believe
> the 
> place to start is with the 'functional operations'.  I'm seeking the
> 'basis' of Mathematica.  Kind of the orthonormal subset of functionality
> which can be used to derive all the other.  I'm also trying to be
> pragmatic.  I'm not trying to reinvent Mathematica, I'm just trying to
> understand 
> the invention that already exists...

I apologize in advance for this pessimistic response, but here goes:

I have attempted something similar on two occasions, but with very specific
audiences in mind. Even so, my efforts were little better than useless. (I
would be willing to send you my most recent attempt, but as I said, it
didn't work well.)

I doubt that you can find agreement among the sea of users of Mathematica as
to what is "essential" or "basic" or an "orthonormal subset".

The kernel is well described in the Mathematica book (for those of us who
are careful readers or are refreshing memories) and in other books (for the
rest of us). Would it not be a better use of your time to refer to selected
passages in existing books?

Documentation of the front end is uneven, with vast uncharted areas (I'm not
even sure when it's round or flat!). Original writing about the front end
might be more fruitful.


Tom Burton

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