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

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg97021] Re: "Do What I Mean" - a suggestion for improving Mathematica experience
  • From: David Bailey <dave at removedbailey.co.uk>
  • Date: Mon, 2 Mar 2009 05:22:47 -0500 (EST)
  • References: <godm5e$481$1@smc.vnet.net>

Bill Rowe wrote:

> 
> 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?
> 
A 'CommentOn' function could warn about the variable xy if variables x 
and y already existed, and then leave it to the user to think about what 
they intended.

Yes - DWIM is probably impractical, but a generator of intelligent 
suggestions, could possibly be useful, I think.

A lot of error messages are extremely opaque to a beginner, e.g.

Set::setraw: Cannot assign to raw object 1. >>

If the user finds the help attached to the ">>" he may figure out what 
is wrong, but an explanation that related to his actual code would 
probably help. In my experience, a lot of beginners simply ignore error 
messages that they don't understand!

David Bailey
http://www.dbaileyconsultancy.co.uk


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