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MathGroup Archive 2005

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Re: Types in Mathematica

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg62348] Re: Types in Mathematica
  • From: John Doty <jpd at whispertel.LoseTheH.net>
  • Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2005 05:25:22 -0500 (EST)
  • References: <200511191053.FAA16418@smc.vnet.net> <dlp2ci$le$1@smc.vnet.net> <dlph3g$4ek$1@smc.vnet.net>
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at wolfram.com

Steven T. Hatton wrote:

> Mathematica is not a "strongly typed" language,

It's not a chocolate ice cream cone either.

> but there are some aspect of
> it which do represent a kind of "type system".  People in this newsgroup
> have suggested that I am making a mistake by thinking in terms of data
> types when working with Mathematica.  This, however, is not consistent with
> the expositions of Steven Wolfram, Roman M�der and Michael Trott.

No, we're only suggesting that you don't take their analogy too far. 
Rather, match the capabilities of Mathematica to to the needs of your 
application without injecting irrelevant ideology.

> It is generally acknowledged in the computer science field that a person
> with experience in several programming languages is typically a better
> programmer than a person who has an equivalent number of hours of
> experience in one programming language. I mean to say both programmers have
> the same total number of hours spent programming.

Sure. Forth software development is a good model for Mathematica 
software development (and *very* different from C++ development), but 
the languages themselves are utterly different, so formal concepts in 
one map not at all into formal concepts in the other. Still, the process 
of development "feels" very similar, and experience in one is therefore 
useful for the other. Just don't go looking for a parameter stack in 
Mathematica or DownValues in Forth. Use the tool, don't fight with it.

-jpd


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