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

*To*: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net*Subject*: [mg97015] Re: "Do What I Mean" - a suggestion for improving*From*: Bill Rowe <readnews at sbcglobal.net>*Date*: Mon, 2 Mar 2009 05:21:39 -0500 (EST)

On 3/1/09 at 4:56 AM, davidbak at gmail.com (David Bakin) wrote: >I think you're missing the point here - and actually, this is >exactly the point that AES keeps banging on. "It's up to a user to >write what he means" is small comfort to a user, especially one new >to Mathematica, who doesn't know how to express what he means. While I understand this is small comfort to a new user, there really isn't much else to be said. Mathematica forms a rich complex toolset for doing mathematica analysis. Any such system will require significant time and effort on the part of an user to become proficient in making use of its capabilities. >Not only do we see a lot of comments on this list of the form "Why >doesn't this work?" we see a lot of the form "I've looked and looked >and I can't figure out why this doesn't work". And meanwhile, "xy" >instead of "x y" is sitting there obvious as hell to all of us who, in >fact, do know what the user means. Think a minute about how it is other more experience users are able to make a good *guess* as to what the intent was when xy was inputed. There is a lot more information in the post than is available to Mathematica starting with the fact the user is indicating he didn't get what he expected. And even with this additional information, more experienced users still are often unable to correctly discern what was intended. =46urther, this is the type of error a user should be able to work out on his own with a little thought using the built-in help system. One of the basic things that should be learned in any CAS, are allowed names for variables. In most systems, this is virtually any alphanumeric string so as to not limit the user. Simply giving this information bit of thought should cause a user to realize the only way to distinguish an arbitrary alphanumeric string from a product is for the product to have some character not allowed for variable names. Hence, xy cannot be way to input the produce of x and y. >Perhaps you're hung up on the idea that I propose that DWIM be >invoked automatically. I didn't mean for everyone! Not you! And >maybe not for anyone: Just consider my idea that it is invoked by >the user typing "Explain[]" after an evaluation of something that >didn't go as he expected. If it isn't automatic, all you've done is provide another thing for a new user to learn. And if it is automatic, you've created problems for more experienced users and even new users. They will now have to figure out why your system tried to see say xy as a product rather than a new variable. And suppose you are able to create something reasonably useful. How will you deploy it? If it is not distributed with Mathematica, then the new user has to learn about getting and installing packages to extend Mathematica. It seems to me, the level of learning needed to accomplish this is actually more than the level of learning needed to realize a product cannot be expressed as xy. Alternatively, if it is distributed with Mathematica, that implies Wolfram will need to support this functionality. And those resources won't be available to other things. Is this really where you want Wolfram to spend resource?