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MathGroup Archive 2005

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Re: Question regarding Mathematica's treatment of whitespace

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg61919] Re: Question regarding Mathematica's treatment of whitespace
  • From: carlos at colorado.edu
  • Date: Fri, 4 Nov 2005 05:11:53 -0500 (EST)
  • References: <dk1k2g$9p9$1@smc.vnet.net><200511020909.EAA06991@smc.vnet.net> <dkcnvk$q8s$1@smc.vnet.net>
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at wolfram.com

I know how things works now.  There is no need to repeat the
manual. My suggestion is to require an explicit terminator.

Present interpretation rules stem from history. Before there was a
front end, Mathematica and its ancestor SMP were kernel
only programs, executed by the usual methods. Type something,
hit CR, watch the response. Command languages have
operated that way since CTSS in 1962.

Want to type several commands in one line? Separate them by
a reserved symbol ( ; and $ have been favorites since
1970), hit CR. The compound command was born.
Want to reuse a block of commands? Collect somewhere,
give a label, type label, hit CR.  The runstream was born.
(I think it came first in Univac's TSS).

With the advent of the front end a block organization becomes
more natural and Mathematica gradually morphs into a scripting
and programming language. However remnants of the old CL
style still lurk behind. Those can be noticed, for example,
in the In[] and Out[] labels that clutter notebooks and
baffle my students.

A mandatory terminator would eliminate ambiguities, and
be especially beneficial in Modules and Blocks.
The ancient rules could be left active for direct kernel
execution, which is nowadays rare by end users.


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