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MathGroup Archive 2005

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Re: Re: Types in Mathematica


On 24 Nov 2005, at 20:33, Steven T. Hatton wrote:

>
>
> My brother, who has been a programmer for over two decades, and has  
> also
> managed programmers, claims that a person doesn't really know a  
> language
> until he or she has worked in it for at least 2 years.  I tend to  
> agree
> with my brother regarding the time it takes to, more or less,  
> "master" a
> language.  So I would adjust my professor's statement accordingly.   
> Thus, I
> will say, roughly speaking, a person with 10 years of Mathematica
> experience, who has never programmed in another language is  
> unlikely to be
> able to use Mathematica as effectively as a person with 2 solid  
> years of
> Mathematica experience, and 8 years experience in other languages.


Well, this is obviously something that can't be tested and will have  
to remain just a matter of opinion. Personally, however, I would say  
that to become a good Mathematica "programmer" in my sense, it is  
better to spend the 8 years on learning subjects such as  
computational commutative algebra, numerical analysis etc. than to  
"waste them" on learning "the tricks of the trade" of other  
programming languages, which are rather different form the "tricks of  
the trade" of Mathematica. But of course this depends a lot on what  
exactly you mean by a "Mathematica programmer". From my point of  
view, it is more useful for a Mathematica programmer to understand  
what Groebner basis is, what CylindricalAlegebraicDecomposition does,  
or how interval arithmetic works, etc, etc, than to know about data  
types, objects, and all the other notions that you have been  
discussing and that are only of tangential relevance to what I use  
Mathematica for. But of course I accept that one can use Mathematica  
for quite different purposes and then the relative relevance of these  
things may be quite different.

Andrzej Kozlowski
Tokyo, Japan


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