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Re: "Do What I Mean" - a suggestion for improving Mathematica experience

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg96994] Re: "Do What I Mean" - a suggestion for improving Mathematica experience
  • From: Bill Rowe <readnews at sbcglobal.net>
  • Date: Sun, 1 Mar 2009 04:56:56 -0500 (EST)

On 2/28/09 at 6:42 AM, davidbak at gmail.com (David Bakin) wrote:

>A few days ago I posted that Mathematica should have a "DWIM"
>feature - "Do What I Mean".

Until there is a mind to Mathematica interface, there is really
no way for this to be successful. Short of reading a users mind,
there is no way to be certain as to what was meant by a given input.

<snip>

>Some situations that could be addressed are:

>1.  User writes "xy" instead of "x y".  Rule could inspect the
>expression under evaluation and find (unevaluated) symbols like "xy"
>of the form "<prefix><suffix>" where both "<prefix>" and "<suffix>"
>were either symbols used in the expression or symbols bound in the
>environment.  Rule would explain the problem and offer to rewrite
>expression and try again.

A common notation in statistics is Subscript[s,xy] typically
meaning the covariance of x and y. Since Mathematica by default
doesn't handle subscripted variables well, I might choose to use
xy to represent the covariance of x and y. How, could you
determine I meant a new variable xy instead of the product x y?

Think of other issues surrounding naming of variables or other
common errors. New users often use single capital letters as
variable names. Additionally, new users often use ( instead of
[. Given this how do you determine intent when N is used?

The software I most dislike is software that attempts to be
"helpful" by correcting my "errors". Well written descriptive
error messages are good and appropriate when the software cannot
parse my input. But re-writing my input into some other form
because there is an assumption of error is very very undesired.





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