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Re: New free introductory book on Mathematica programming,

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  • Subject: [mg96458] Re: [mg96352] New free introductory book on Mathematica programming,
  • From: peter <plindsay.0 at>
  • Date: Sat, 14 Feb 2009 03:07:38 -0500 (EST)
  • References: <>

This is terrific stuff, thank you.


2009/2/12 Leonid Shifrin <lshifr at>:
> Dear Group,
> This is my first post here, although I have been
> a long-term Mathematica user. My field is (more correctly,
> was until recently) Theoretical and Mathematical Physics.
> I have been using Mathematica for about 12 years now,
> but only the last 4 as a programmer. Being a Mathematica
> enthusiast, I have written an introductory book (well, a
> first part of it) on Mathematica programming based on my
> own experiences and my compilation of existing literature,
> as an expansion of notes-to-self. The motivation was to
> minimize frustration of learning Mathematica programming for
> someone like myself 4 years ago.
> My experience is that, for a beginner, it is easiest to learn
> Mathematica (programming) when it is illustrated with many simple
> examples and is as much separated from any field-specific
> application as possible. This is what I tried to do in the
> book.
> What I had in mind was a pure programming book about Mathematica
> language, with no reference to any specific field-related
> functionality, with lots of examples being small but complete
> projects, less comprehensive than Mathematica book but containing more
> substantial programs, easier to read than Roman Maeder's books
> (but by no means a substitute), more applied than David Wagner's
> (apart from the fact that it is out of print), going a little deeper into
> the language core and being somewhat more pragmatic than
> Paul Wellin et al (please don't get me wrong - these are all excellent
> books), and centered around functional programming layer, main
> higher-order functions, idiomatic Mathematica programming and
> efficiency.
> An ideal reader for it would be a person who has some Mathematica
> experience as a user, needs to write programs more substantial
> than a few one-liners, and wants to understand the logic of the
> language and ways to program idiomatically, minimize programming
> effort and maximize program's efficiency. Parts of the book
> (chapters 1-4) can also be useful for more occasional Mathematica
>  users, and the last chapter may be of some interest to more
> experienced users as well.
> I much hope that the book will be not completely useless  and
> that I will get some feedback which will help me improve it.  If you think
> that some material is described inaccurately, or missing, or unnecessary,
> or whatever, please let me know!
> The book is available for free from my web site,
> <>,
> and is published under Creative Commons Non-commercial
> share-alike License. It is possible to read it online or
> download a pdf version.
> Apart from the book, I have made several tools that I use
>  myself and that I believe could be of interest to
> some Mathematica users. I plan to sumbit them to MathSource
> soon, but will appreciate any feedback even before that,
> while they are in "alpha".
> All packages are accompanied by Mathematica notebooks with
> numerous examples of use and explanations of all package's
> features. They have been all tested with v.5.2 and 6.0,
> although perhaps my test suits were too thin. The following
> packages are currently freely available  from the same web site,
> <>:
> *******************************************************************************************
> - Cache
>    Creates a cached version of a given function and
>    fetches results of frequent function calls  from cache
>    of a fixed user-defined size. Slower than f[x_]:=f[x]=...
>    idiom, but you control the size of DownValues list. Can
>    be useful for functions which are at least minimally
>    computationally demanding, in unattended computations.
> - UnsortedOperations
>    Reasonably fast functions to do various manipulations
>    with several lists without sorting, such as mapping
>    a function on elements of one list being members of
>    another one, unsorted Union, Intersection, Complement,
>    etc. This package is an expansion of the last case
>    study in the last chapter of the book.
> - AttributesOfPureFunctions
>    Produces new pure functions at run-time, with the
>    desired sets of attributes but otherwise the same as
>    the original ones. Can also "wrap" the "normal"
>    (DownValue-based) function into a pure function wrapper,
>    with the pure function sharing with the original all
>    Attributes that make sense for pure functions.
> - CheckOptions
>    For any user-defined (or modified) DownValue-based
>    option-taking function, which uses the ___?OptionQ to
>    declare options, adds new definitions that check
>    options for validity (not just the option name, but
>    also the option's rhs) and can execute arbitrary user-
>    defined code upon receiving inappropriate option(s) (such
>    as returning $Failed, Throw-ing an exception, etc).
>    The limitations are discussed in :Discussion:
>    section of the package documentation.
> - PackageOptionChecks
>    Elevates the functionality of  CheckOptions to the level
>    of the package(context), while retains the control on
>    the level of individual functions as well. Adds an
>    easy-to use interface to "protect" package's functions
>    from inappropriate options. Can work from within the
>    package of interest, or "externally" (in the latter case
>    no code modifications for the package itself are needed).
>    Can be also used for Global` context during interactive
>    development (before putting functions into a package).
>    Essentially, allows to "meta-program" the package by
>    specifying the response actions for each function after
>    (and independently) of the main function's code, and
>    gives the user external control over this responding
>    behavior. Can also be used as a debugging tool.
>    Limitations are discussed in the :Discussion: section of
>    the package documentation.
> - PackageManipulations
>    Allows to dynamically reload, clear or remove the
>    package's context in a way consistent with general
>    package mechanics in Mathematica. Useful for interactive
>    package development, especially for larger projects with
>    many inter-dependent packages. Dynamic re-loader tracks
>    escaping symbols and (optionally) can automatically
>    resolve possible shadowing problems occuring before or
>    during re-loading.
> - PackageSymbolsDependencies
>    For a given package/context, answers the following
>    questions:
>    1. Do there exist symbols in other contexts that
>    depend on symbols in a given one through some global
>    properties (DownValues etc)
>    2. If so, what they are
>    3. For a given arbitrary Mathematica expression, what
>    are the symbols used to build it, and their contexts
>    4. Whether or not a given symbol is shadowed
>    The package is highly customizable, with its efficiency
>    depending mainly on how much we know about the set of
>    possibly dependent symbols. It can be used to analyze
>    inter-context dependencies in larger projects, and to
>    discover/monitor modifications that a given package
>    induces in other contexts (including overloading system
>    functions). This is also a good practical example of
>    <PackageOptionChecks> in action, since options here are
>    protected with PackageOptionChecks.
> *************************************************************************************
> If you intend to use any of these, I will be happy, but  please read the
> disclaimer on my web site. If you find bugs in the packages or in the book,
> I will also greatly appreciate if you let me know - please see the
> <report_bug> section of my web site.
> Everybody thanks a lot for attention,
> and Best Regards!
> Leonid Shifrin

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