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Re: variable "K"? (Really strange behavior . . . )

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  • Subject: [mg69204] Re: variable "K"? (Really strange behavior . . . )
  • From: Joseph Gwinn <JoeGwinn at>
  • Date: Fri, 1 Sep 2006 18:41:03 -0400 (EDT)
  • Organization: Gwinn Instruments
  • References: <ed6918$jho$> <ed93cf$qrt$>
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

In article <ed93cf$qrt$1 at>, AES <siegman at> 

> Final comments (my final comments, anyway) on the "strange behavior of 
> K" observation I posted:
> 1)  The explanation clearly lies in the two responses appended below 
> (and thanks).
> 2)  Some further exploration on my part seems to show that the 7 single 
> capital letters  C  D  E  I  K  N  O  all have (at present, anyway) one 
> or another form of special "system" meaning in Mathematica.  Six of 
> these 7 letters (all but K) also share the properties that they
> So, despite the attractions of writing an optics notebook using the 
> standard notation of  "a" for radius of a circular fiber, "v" for its 
> fiber v parameter, "A" for its cross sectional area, "V" for its volume, 
> and "K" as the standard notation for the thermal conductivity of glass, 
> I guess the safest course is for the user to conform to the computer, 
> and never use a capital letter as the initial letter of a symbol.

I went through a similar drama, and went to the other extreme:  All my 
variable names are now long-winded.  For instance, I would use something 
like FiberRadius, Vparam, SectionArea, Volume, and ThermalConductivity.  
The initial caps do no harm so long as the name is long enough that 
collisions are very unlikely to impossible, assuming that the vocabulary 
in one's problem domain are unlike those in the innards of Mathematica.

This is basically the approach Wolfram recommends in The Holy Tome, and 
he built Mathematica to follow this approach.  So, I went with the flow.

Joe Gwinn

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