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RE: Thinking Mathematica: Any suggestions?

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg91678] RE: [mg91672] Thinking Mathematica: Any suggestions?
  • From: "E. Martin-Serrano" <eMartinSerrano at>
  • Date: Thu, 4 Sep 2008 06:39:22 -0400 (EDT)
  • References: <>

In my humble opinion your post addresses a non solved question. In fact,
there has been a lot of controversy in the forum about whether using
procedural or functional programming or just a mix. My perception of the
situation is that most users tend to prefer the procedural way (FORTRAN
like) to the functional (APL like). Functional programs for complex problems
tend to be awkward and difficult to grasp or modify. In the past, the
paradigm of functional programs was termed "the oneliner" but it was
abandoned because of the reason above. A few years ago, one of the habitual
mathgroupers (I am sorry, I do not remember who) posted a draft of an
article about a special purpose approach to functional programming based on
the structure of the mathematical objects to be handled. It seemed promising
but it never heard of it again, maybe some one could recall that now. In
summary, mix your procedural experience with what you can learn

-----Original Message-----
From: Tyler [mailto:hayes.tyler at]
Sent: mi=E9rcoles, 03 de septiembre de 2008 11:47
To: mathgroup at
Subject: [mg91678] [mg91672] Thinking Mathematica: Any suggestions?

Hello All:

I have a very basic question, but one that I am struggling to come to
terms with myself. Let me give a bit of background to put the question
in context....

I am coming from a FORTRAN programming background, where I used things
like DISLIN or plplot to generate figures. Sometimes I would import
them into a visualization tool like IDL, but for the most part, I'm a
procedural programmer. Even worse, some say, a FORTRAN one at that!

Anyways, I've left academics after twelve years and decided to take
the plunge and purchase Mathematica 6. So far I am liking it; however,
there is still something of a learning curve here for me. I constantly
find myself looking at the For and Do constructs when attempting to
implement my algorithms. Obviously, I would like to start thinking in
"Mathematica" so as to take advantage of what the team at Wolfram has
done so I don't have to.

My problem is, most of the examples I find in the documentation are of
the simplest kind and I am having difficulty applying them to
something more than Newton's method. Perhaps something like Finite-
Difference/Finite Element "like" algorithms, where index manipulations
are key to proper results? Again, this could be because I have a
wealth of procedural algorithms that assume a particular approach.

Does anyone have any tips or insight into how they made the transfer
from a procedural paradigm to a more natural Mathematica one?



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