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Re: Readability confuses mathematica?

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg44633] Re: Readability confuses mathematica?
  • From: Paul Abbott <paul at>
  • Date: Tue, 18 Nov 2003 06:42:07 -0500 (EST)
  • Organization: The University of Western Australia
  • References: <bpa1q2$19m$>
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

In article <bpa1q2$19m$1 at>,
 Bill Rowe <readnewscix at> wrote:

> On 11/15/03 at 2:05 AM, akoz at (Andrzej Kozlowski) wrote:
> > I am still not convinced that TraditionalForm makes good input. It 
> > hides too much of the underlying Mathematica code, 

It doesn't really hide it -- you can always select the cell and do 
Convert To InputForm or StandardForm

> > makes it difficult to copy and paste cells 

Only if your input and ouput formats are different

> > and, it seems to me, is more prone to corruption. 

This was certainly true in 3.0 and, to some extent in 4.x. But I find it 
to be very stable now.

> > Besides, I do tend to think of input and output as 
> > performing a different role, with input being essentially "source 
> > code". 

You can always type in using InputForm style into a TraditionalForm  
input cell.

> > Even when I teach undergraduate classes I prefer StandardForm 
> > for input, since it reveals much more of the Mathematica programming 
> > language and hence is more instructive. So it seems to me that the 
> > mixed form (Standard for input, Traditional for output) is the most 
> > natural setup.

But, unfortunately, the most problematic combination.

> To add to Andrzej's point I offer the following quotes from the Mathematica 
> Book 
> from section 1.0.9
> "The basic idea of StandardForm is to provide a precise but elegant 
> representation of Mathematica expressions, making use of special characters, 
> two-dimensional positioning and so on."
> and
> "But you should understand that TraditionlForm is intended primarily for 
> output: it does not have the kind of precision that is needed to provide 
> reliabile input to Mathematica"

Actually, this is not true! I use it all the time and in a perfectly 
reliable and unambiguous way.

Indeed, I introduce TraditionalForm to my undergraduate students and the 
Notebooks I use have a StyleSheet which makes TraditionalForm the 
default input and output format.

> It seems to me this strongly argues for using StandardForm as the default 
> input and TraditionalForm as the defualt output. For me the clear advantage 
> of this setup is I can be more certain of the input Mathematica is getting 
> and readily share my results with colleagues unfamiliar with Mathematica.

But you can always select all of your input cells and convert them to 
StandardForm (or InputForm).


Paul Abbott                                   Phone: +61 8 9380 2734
School of Physics, M013                         Fax: +61 8 9380 1014
The University of Western Australia      (CRICOS Provider No 00126G)         
35 Stirling Highway
Crawley WA 6009                      mailto:paul at 

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