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Request for Collective Wisdom...

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  • Subject: [mg88463] Request for Collective Wisdom...
  • From: "W_Craig Carter" <wcraigcarter at>
  • Date: Tue, 6 May 2008 06:38:09 -0400 (EDT)

(*Below is a request for suggestions for "hints for beginners. The
preface is a bit long-winded" *)

I am working on an applied math for physical scientists undergraduate
text---I am using Mathematica as the engine to learn and solve
problems quickly.

I have an appendix that I have been creating (empirically) for  a
couple years: "Common Mathematica Beginners' Errors." This wasn't

I am now considering how to write another Appendix: "Mathematica Usage
Paradigms for Beginners."  This one is not as straightforward because
it will be a list of short sequences of Mathematica code. The size of
the list should be a compromise between length, completeness, and

Some topics are obvious to (subjective) me: work symbolically and with
exact representations; scale to remove units when possible; visualize
often and when in doubt evaluate as a number; pure functions are
power; avoid the outdoors unless you have applied the documentation,
lists are your friends...

Nota bene, this is a book for undergraduates who have just received
the "physics, chemistry, and multivariable calculus" catechism, and
(typically) don't appreciate that there are common themes in their
education (think back...).

(* Punchline: *)
I would sincerely appreciate thoughtful (bullet-type) suggestions for
paradigms.  (off-line or on- as you please).

PS: Implicit in this is what a dear friend called "The Homotopy
Conjecture."  Give me a small working example, and it can deformed
into a complicated one for my own purposes.

PPS: I expect a small fraction of snarky answers---I won't respond.

W. Craig Carter

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