MathGroup Archive 2009

[Date Index] [Thread Index] [Author Index]

Search the Archive

Re: Re: What should be a simple task....

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg100689] Re: [mg100668] Re: [mg100654] What should be a simple task....
  • From: Andrzej Kozlowski <akoz at>
  • Date: Thu, 11 Jun 2009 07:08:01 -0400 (EDT)
  • References: <30526967.1244628476411.JavaMail.root@n11> <>

I think the subject of this "discussion" has been somewhat misstated  
(or at least I hope so). What I am objecting to is essentially the use  
of the word "should". If "should" is interpreted literally then, in my  
opinion, the discussion becomes absurd. Everyone "should" use  
Mathematica in the way that he or she finds most convenient and there  
are almost as many different situations as there are users. As an  
obvious example I will mention there is no point telling people to  
"stay inside Mathematica" if they want to submit a paper to a journal  
which only accepts submissions written in TeX or Word or whatever.
The other "should" (that one should use Mathematica only for  
calculation) is even more absurd - there is absolutely no point  
telling me that I should use Illustrator when Mathematica produces  
perfectly acceptable results (and besides, I try to boycott Adobe's  
products on principle, as much as possible of course...).

I think the real issue is the direction of Mathematica's development  
by WRI, not how it is actually used by users, which should be up to  
them (which does not mean that one should not try to inform them about  
all the possibilities, which I take to be what David Park's reply is  
really about). To me it seems obvious that Mathematica should be  
developed as a self-contained tool for two reasons. One is that only  
such a development makes possible fantastic projects such as the  
Demonstrations Project and Wolfram Alpha. Both of these can exist only  
thanks to this "integrated" nature of Mathematica. At this time anyway  
both have no real competitors and the reason is that there is no other  
tool today that can compete with Mathematica in respect of this  
"integration". AES's argument has always been that Wolfram should do  
basically the same thing as many other programs do, I know of at least  
a dozen commercial and free programs that do rather well exactly what  
he argues Mathematica should be doing. I think if AES hopes that he  
can persuade Wolfram that the best way to success is becoming a part  
of a crowd, I think he hasn't been paying any attention during the  
last 20 years. One can say many things about Stephen Wolfram but that  
he likes to be a part of a crowd is not one of them.

Of course, although I believe Mathematica should be developed exactly  
the way it is now, as a basically integrated and self contained tool,  
I also think that making sure that it has up to date and extensive  
export abilities is essential. This obviously follows from what I  
wrote at the beginning -  users should have the maximum freedom to use  
Mathematica in a way that is most convenient for them.

Andrzej Kozlowski

On 11 Jun 2009, at 06:12, David Park wrote:

> Kristin,
> I want to apologize at the start because I am not directly answering  
> your
> problem (I hope you will get a simple effective solution, probably  
> from one
> of my favorite guys at WRI.), and what I say may sound a little  
> critical -
> but I hope not of you.
> There has been a long-time running discussion, mainly between me and  
> "AES",
> on MathGroup concerning how Mathematica should be used. I think that
> Mathematica should be used not only for calculations but also as a
> communications medium. One should stay in Mathematica all the way. AES
> believes one should only do basic mathematical calculations and  
> plots in
> Mathematica (which it would specialize in) and export everything to  
> other
> media for publication or communication. And, in fact, I suspect that  
> most
> users do it his way.
> But there are quite a few complaints about problems in exporting  
> Mathematica
> output to other media that appear in this newsgroup. This process  
> actually
> takes quite a bit of special knowledge. We even see such problems  
> posted by
> people we know to be quite sophisticated users of Mathematica.
> So why not stay in Mathematica in the first place? It's capabilities  
> for
> presenting technical information are immensely superior to any  
> static or
> semi-static medium such as PowerPoint. Why not convince the  
> recipients of
> your information that it is better to spend your time on the technical
> problems, than on the problems of converting to a vastly inferior  
> medium
> that serves their interests less well?
> If one of the reasons is that they don't have Mathematica then it is  
> all the
> more reason that WRI and everyone else would benefit from a free and  
> easily
> obtained Mathematica PlayerPro.
> David Park
> djmpark at
> From: Nelson-Patel, Kristin [mailto:knp at]
> Hi :)
> I am an analyst (applied physics and math) who has to present all
> of my work in Power Point briefings, sometimes on paper, sometimes
> electronically. I vastly prefer working in Mathematica to another  
> system;
> however, I'm currently ham strung by my inability to transfer simple
> plots from Mathematica 7 to Power Point 2007 in a way that looks  
> decent.
> In previous versions of both, I was able to Copy As: Metafile by right
> clicking on the plot in Mathematica and Paste Special: Metafile in
> Power Point, and all would be well (Ok, I had to tweak line thickness
> settings and fonts in my plots to make them survive the transfer, but
> that was fine).   Now, I have select the whole cell rather than just
> the plot to get the Copy As: metafile option, and I have to go all the
> way to the menu bar to do it (no longer an option on the right click).
> Fine, I can deal with that, but I can't deal with the fact that my  
> simple
> plots look completely ratty now upon pasting into Power Point.
> There's all this stair stepping in curves which should be smooth.
> I've played with the PlotPoints option-no effect. I've exported into
> different form ats with varying ImageResolution and imported; Either  
> the
> fonts get screwed up or it looks even worse or there's ugly aliasing  
> or
> no effect on the stair stepping.  I've exported to PDF and snapshot- 
> copied
> from there; The curves look good, but now the whole image is just a  
> little
> bit blurry/soft, a little too much to pass muster with my supervisors
> and sponsors.
> I'm really getting frustrated now, have spent way too much time on  
> what
> *was* a solved problem before my "upgrades", and beginning to suspect
> that the problem is some import or paste/display setting in Power  
> Point
> that I can't reach.  I really don't want to have two different  
> briefings
> for electronic vs. paper presentation, but I'm a little concerned  
> that's
> where this is heading, or I'm going to have to use the other system to
> make my plots. Which would bea shame.
> Has anyone figured this one out yet?  Help, please-I'm crying uncle.
> This is one of those stupid simple problems that also happens to be
> quite fundamental to the ability to make good use of Mathematica.
> -Kristin

  • Prev by Date: Re: Draw a 3D surface
  • Next by Date: Re: Creating Matrix from vectors
  • Previous by thread: Re: What should be a simple task....
  • Next by thread: Re: What should be a simple task....