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Re: Range of Use of Mathematica

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  • Subject: [mg89043] Re: Range of Use of Mathematica
  • From: David Bailey <dave at>
  • Date: Sat, 24 May 2008 03:55:30 -0400 (EDT)
  • References: <g0m8tt$14$> <g0rkfr$dtv$> <> <g11qvh$a6r$> <> <g15qp8$pe6$>

Brett Champion wrote:
> 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

Do you offer video versions of these seminars so that we can watch them 
at a convenient time?

David Bailey

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