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Re: Book or Manual for 6?

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  • Subject: [mg78352] Re: Book or Manual for 6?
  • From: David Bailey <dave at>
  • Date: Fri, 29 Jun 2007 05:39:00 -0400 (EDT)
  • References: <f5qitl$5fs$> <> <f5vrpf$kar$>

Murray Eisenberg wrote:
> Although I agree fundamentally with everything that David says about how 
> to learn Mathematica (and other things as well), there are still three 
> issues, the third of which some other poster mentioned:
> (1) Still, there are occasions when I want no electronic impediment 
> whatsoever and just want to look at a book.  Clearly some thing are best 
> learned with the live system, but there are others for which a clear 
> exposition, with good examples and in a coherent underlying conceptual 
> structure, suffices.
> (2) As a university teacher for over 40 years, the longer I teach the 
> more I realize how very different learning styles can be.  So a 
> multiplicity of learning modes and materials is warranted.
> (2) Perhaps it's not so much a printed book per se that I, and some 
> others, miss, but rather the quasi-linear (and spirally structured) path 
> through Mathematica provided by "The Mathematica Book".
> Just because the system itself may be a web does not preclude an author 
> from creating a more-or-less linear path through (part of) it.
> David Park wrote:
>> As to the lack of a hard copy book: I don't think that a static book is the 
>> way to learn Mathematica. ... Hard copy books are truly inadequate for learning the 
>> new Mathematica. That is probably why there was little effort to produce 
>> such a book....
I agree - there is something attractive about reading a book that is 
difficult to reproduce electronically. When you read a book, you get the 
information in a sensible order.

I knew someone who didn't know how to combine code from several 
notebooks - i.e. he didn't realise that every time you execute a 
definition - regardless of which notebook (this was 5.2, so we are not 
talking notebook contexts) it ended up in the kernel. Unfortunately, 
this guy discovered the notebook functions such as SelectionMove/ 
SelectionEvaluate, and thought this was the way to combine code from 
several notebooks...

I don't know for sure, but my guess is that he learned Mathematica from 
the help files. I reckon this kind of mistake is much easier to make if 
you don't read a book, because you hit upon functions with much less 
context. Reading a book (or attending a course) you would not encounter 
such functions until much later in the learning process.

David Bailey

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