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Re: Re: Range of Use of Mathematica

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg88903] Re: Re: Range of Use of Mathematica
  • From: Andrzej Kozlowski <akoz at mimuw.edu.pl>
  • Date: Wed, 21 May 2008 14:47:45 -0400 (EDT)
  • References: <g0m8tt$14$1@smc.vnet.net> <g0rkfr$dtv$1@smc.vnet.net> <200805200627.CAA23235@smc.vnet.net>

On 20 May 2008, at 15:27, David Bailey wrote:

> One sign of bloat, is that there are now two major interfaces -  
> notebook
> and Workbench (not to mention Math.exe) and such a profusion of  
> commands
> and options that even those of us that use the product regularly  
> cannot
> hope to be familiar with more than a smallish subset. There are also  
> two
> help systems! This has, unfortunately, impacted on the quality of
> documentation. My advice to a beginner would be to read the V5.0 or  
> even
> V4.0 documentation (plus a few tips about the changes in Graphics) to
> get some idea of the way the system works.


I think one should not loose sight of in my opinion, a  very essential  
fact, which is that the Mathematica Kernel, has remained largely  
unchanged, except (of course) for continual enhancement by addition of  
new functions, which only make it more efficient and powerful (and  
make programing considerably easier). What this means is, that people  
who see themselves essentially as Kernel users, are not in any  
fundamental away affected by any of the changes you are mentioning  
above. I know, because I consider myself one of them. I have never  
tried using Workbench (even though I have downloaded it), and I have  
not even made a serious effort to learn how MakeBoxes etc, works. I  
still write all research in TeX. I know that it is possible to use  
FrontEndToken etc, and if I even wanted to do so I know where to find  
the documentation - but I have never found any incentive to do this.  
However, I have become interested in the new Dynamic functionality,  
partly because I think it is a great teaching tool and partly because  
of the  Demonstrations project, but this is really the first new  
addition to the Front End that has interested me. I am sure that I am  
not alone. In fact, Wolfram has a different set of people working on  
the Kernel and on the Front End, and I am sure that there are people  
in the Kernel group whose knowledge of the workings of the Front End  
isn't much greater than mine.

I mention this because even though I have not, until recently, been  
very interested in the Front End, I have never been in anyway  
inconvenience by the developments that have taken place in that area.  
True, Mathematica has grown larger, but not more than have my hard  
disks or RAM. I therefore, see none of the problems you mention or  
that seem to worry AES. I am a mathematician and intend to remain one.  
I use Mathematica in the way that it was originally advertised, as a  
"system for doing mathematics by computer". The most far reaching  
change in the program that was ever made happened, in fact, in version  
2, when the Kernel was separated from the Front End. Sometime little  
later WRI changed its advertising slogan to something like  "the  
world's only fully integrated technical computing system". That, of  
course, shows clearly the strategic direction that WRI chose and it  
has consistently followed since. But for me it has always remained "a  
system for doing mathematics by computer". In spite of that, I see no  
reason to complain, because I have never found the slightest conflict  
between these two "roles" of Mathematica. I have never found , for  
example, that the development of Mathematica's typesetting  
capabilities has in any way adversely affected any of Mathematica's  
numerical or algebraic ones, which are the ones that really matter to  
me.
So I really still fail to see what this whole discussion is supposed  
to be about. I particularly, I can't understand why someone who keeps  
saying that Mathematica does not need publishing or presentation  
capabilities etc. and should only be used for computations would at  
the same time complain about the supposed lack of documentations of  
functionality which, according to him,  should not be there in the  
first place.

Andrzej Kozlowski




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