Re: Range of Use of Mathematica
- To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
- Subject: [mg88847] Re: Range of Use of Mathematica
- From: AES <siegman at stanford.edu>
- Date: Mon, 19 May 2008 05:16:23 -0400 (EDT)
- Organization: Stanford University
- References: <email@example.com>
In article <g0m8tt$14$1 at smc.vnet.net>, "David Park" <djmpark at comcast.net> wrote: > For some years now 'AES' (actually Professor Anthony E. Siegman, McMurty > Professor of Engineering Emeritus at Stanford University) and I have engaged > in a running dialog on the extent of Mathematica's usefulness in preparing > research material for publication. I believe that AES's basic position is > that Mathematica is fine for doing computer algebra (traditional CAS > operations), numerical calculations and generating starting graphics for > publications. But then he advocates using outside programs for perfecting > the graphics, doing typesetting and preparing the final publication. He > thinks that "..even attempting (to combine these functions in Mathematica) . > is inherently a bad idea." > > [Remainder of post snipped] > I appreciate David Park's setting out this outline of our respective views and differences. I believe he's given a fair and accurate summary of these views and differences, and also that there is a quite sizable amount of agreement, but also some definite and persistent areas of disagreement, in our views. And, I also believe there are some additional factors and arguments that also need to be brought out on these issues. I'd like to respond on all these aspects (although I suspect there are others on this group who may feel that I've posted more than enough already), and I hope to respond eventually; but this may not happen for a while because of pressure of other commitments on my side (and very likely on his also). Others may of course also want to add other comments. One response I'd make immediately is that the issues here seem to me to be quite a broader than just the "range of ways in which Mathematica can be used". The real underlying issue is (even if phrasing it this way may sound a bit pretentious): What is, or what could be, or should be, the _strategic vision_ for Mathematica, as a system or as a product line or as a useful tool or even as a communications standard? And then, as a necessary of this strategic vision, what is really the target market or audience for Mathematica? And then, if there's any agreement on this strategic vision, and on the market for it, how do those choices influence the way that Mathematica should be designed, and developed, and marketed, and documented, and delivered, and priced? --- including especially, what should it's interface look like? Those are all questions that can, of course, be argued and discussed at immense length --- and such discussions, while providing lots of grist for entertaining comments and flame wars, may come to very little beyond that, if Wolfram Inc already has its strategic vision, thank you, and is not inclined to open this vision up very much to outside knowledge or input. And finally, my pretty strong personal impressions (for what little they're worth) are that if Wolfram Inc. (or Wolfram, person?) really has a clear strategic vision for Mathematica, it's certainly not clear to me what it really is; and secondarily, despite the obvious levels of skill and ability and dedication in those who create and maintain Mathematica, there are a lot of ways in which Walfram is seriously missing the boat in building a product to occupy and serve a larger user environment, with user documentation being the most obvious area for this kind of criticism.