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Re: Thinking Mathematica: Any suggestions?

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  • Subject: [mg91674] Re: [mg91672] Thinking Mathematica: Any suggestions?
  • From: Selwyn Hollis <sh2.7183 at>
  • Date: Thu, 4 Sep 2008 06:38:38 -0400 (EDT)
  • References: <>

Sounds like you are coming to Mathematica much like I did a couple of  
lives ago.

My advice:

Don't even try to force Mathematica into the looping constructs that  
you're used to thinking about. You can do it, but you'd just be  
postponing getting where you want to be. And learn at least a little  
bit about about functional programming languages. I had no idea what  
that was all about for years.

Focus for a while just on Lists -- building them, manipulating them,  
etc. That should help you break the loop habit. There are A LOT of  
functions to learn here, but Table, NestList, and Map will take you  
pretty far. Your background may whisper in your ear that using  
functions like those is somehow "cheating," but it's not.

-- Selwyn Hollis

On Sep 3, 2008, at 6:46 AM, Tyler wrote:

> 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?
> Cheers,
> t.

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