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MathGroup Archive 2008

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Re: Re: Re: Re: Show and 6.0


Actually, I do not disagree with this, except perhaps for certain  
aspects that are essentially matters of taste and habit.
Personally, I do not find encyclopedic style books suitable for  
studying mathematics, and learning mathematica (for me) is similar to  
learning mathematics. The problem is not whether one can read such a  
book with interest (this is essentially a matter of style and  
Wolfram's style, while rather short on wit, makes for pretty smooth  
reading) but how much one retains and how deep is the understanding  
one acquires. In my own case, the Mathematica book like all  
encyclopedic texts fails in this respect. I actually read the first  
edition quite carefully but found that I was quite unable to write  
anything but the simplest programs until after I read Roman Maeder's  
Programming in Mathematica. But only after I read Wagner's "Power  
Programing with Mathematica" I began to feel I had understood the  
essence of the language. After that I taught Mathematica programming  
to math students for several years using the book of  Wellin and  
Kamin, and I told the students to use The Mathematica book mainly as a  
reference. I still think that was the right approach, although, of  
course this may not be equally true for everyone.

In any case, there is certainly no shortage of Mathematica books that  
teach the fundamentals of the language.

Andrzej Kozlowski


On 12 Jun 2008, at 15:56, Murray Eisenberg wrote:

> I, for one, regard Wolfram's "The Mathematica Book" as excellent, both
> as a reference and as a tutorial.  I have always found it quite
> readable, and indeed I am quite sure I have read through at least  
> nearly
>  everything in at least nearly all chapters. And the pages of some of
> those chapters are very well worn.
>
> The "Virtual Book" added to Mathematica 6.0.1 (or was it 6.0.2?) is a
> reasonable substitute for that, although I still miss the  
> convenience of
> a bound book, and I still prefer the two-column code / comment  
> layout of
> all the examples in "The Mathematica Book".
>
> One thing really missing in "the book" was the process of building up
> larger applications such as might arise in practice.  But other  
> books do
> that.
>
>
> Andrzej Kozlowski wrote:
>>
>> ... As for Wolfram's huge book, while excellent as a
>> on-line reference, I consider it totally unreadable (and I have good
>> reasons to believe that the people who most lament its absence in
>> Mathematica 6 have never actually read the earlier versions).
>
> -- 
> Murray Eisenberg                     murray at math.umass.edu
> Mathematics & Statistics Dept.
> Lederle Graduate Research Tower      phone 413 549-1020 (H)
> University of Massachusetts                413 545-2859 (W)
> 710 North Pleasant Street            fax   413 545-1801
> Amherst, MA 01003-9305
>



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