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Re: Re: Range of Use of Mathematica

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg88998] Re: [mg88958] Re: Range of Use of Mathematica
  • From: Brett Champion <brettc at>
  • Date: Fri, 23 May 2008 03:08:07 -0400 (EDT)
  • References: <g0m8tt$14$> <g0rkfr$dtv$> <> <g11qvh$a6r$> <>

On May 22, 2008, at 1:37 AM , David Bailey wrote:

> Andrzej Kozlowski wrote:
>> 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
> Obviously, WRI are very reluctant to remove functionality, so our code
> goes on working from version to version. That is great, but we surely
> also want newcomers to find Mathematica easy to use.
> Unless a new user decides to go on a course - with all the extra  
> expense
> that involves - they have to try to get an overview of the system and
> decide which features are important to learn about. I suspect that  
> this
> is not as easy as it may seem to those of us that have used  
> Mathematica
> for years, and know how it all fits together.

I'll point out that we also offer seminars on a variety of topics that  
are free, except for an hour or so of your time.  You can find more  
information at

Brett Champion
Wolfram Research

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