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Re: The audience for Mathematica (Was: Show doesn't work inside Do loop ?)

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  • Subject: [mg102057] Re: The audience for Mathematica (Was: Show doesn't work inside Do loop ?)
  • From: Bill Rowe <readnews at>
  • Date: Tue, 28 Jul 2009 02:04:08 -0400 (EDT)

On 7/27/09 at 5:56 AM, siegman at (AES) wrote:

>As a more specific definition of an expected audience, it seems to
>me (and, I think, Helen Read) that Mathematica -- or at least a more
>consistent and less perplexing form of Mathematica:

>1) Could be very accessible to bright high school students, maybe
>with some hand holding;

The problem here is most high school students are in the process
of learning mathematics and have little knowledge of advanced
mathematics. Is it really a good idea to give students learning
say algebra access to a tool like Mathematica? If you do, what
will they learn? Algebra or usage of the tool?

>2)  Could be (and to some extent is) useful to average college
>students and to working BS level engineers as a helpful working tool
>in any technical or mathematically oriented area; and

What do you see as he "average college student"? As I recall my
experience in college, the combined total engineering,
mathematics, physics and chemistry majors was at most about half
the total campus population at the freshman level. And I think,
the ratio of became less at more advanced levels. That is my
guess is there are more college students that have little use
for what Mathematica offers than there are that would find
Mathematica useful.

>3)  Could be (and to a considerable extent is) a very, very powerful
>personal hands-on tool for graduate students, faculty, designers,
>engineers, and researchers for doing real work in a very wide range
>of fields (not just engineering, math or science).

>And that's a very massive audience.

Perhaps not as massive as you suppose.

>(Note that I'm writing here about people whose primary focus is on,
>and whose energies are primarily devoted to, the work they want to
>do -- the problems they want to solve -- and who do not want to
>convert their primary focus to becoming a Mathematica expert.)

My guess is few if any of the posters here that you might label
as "Mathematica experts" outside of those employed by WRI ever
had as their primary focus "becoming a Mathematica expert".
Certainly for myself, my focus is on using Mathematica to solve
problems I am working on, not learning Mathematica per se. But,
it is also true the more I use and learn Mathematica the more
effectively I can apply it to problems I am working on. And of
course, usage of Mathematica to solve more problems means I gain
more expertise in using Mathematica.

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