Re: "Do What I Mean" - a suggestion for improving
- To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
- Subject: [mg97110] Re: "Do What I Mean" - a suggestion for improving
- From: Bill Rowe <readnews at sbcglobal.net>
- Date: Thu, 5 Mar 2009 04:57:10 -0500 (EST)
On 3/4/09 at 7:09 AM, siegman at stanford.edu (AES) wrote: >In article <gogc0l$oga$1 at smc.vnet.net>, >Bill Rowe <readnews at sbcglobal.net> wrote: >>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. >I'm afraid that this, if true, is small comfort to me -- but it's >because I thought that the point to Mathematica was making a toolset >with which many different levels of users -- smart high school >juniors and seniors, college students at all levels, working >engineers at BS or MS levels, professionals in many other fields >without extensive math or computer science bckgrounds -- could do >both analytical and numerical analyses, make plots, graphs, >animations, demonstrations, in their own areas, **without having to >invest "significant time and effort" (which they may simply not >have) in learning the increasingly arcane, massive, and complex >complications involved in working with Mathematica. Since I don't work for Wolfram, I cannot truly know what there goals are for Mathematica. While I do think Wolfram does try to make Mathematica as easy to use as possible, I don't believe this is their primary goal. I do not think it is even a good idea to attempt to make Mathematica accessible to users with minimal computer/mathematics experience/knowledge assuming this is even possible. There are a great many things in mathematics that work in specialized cases. For example, a user with little experience in mathematics likely would expect Sqrt[x^2] to simplify to x. But that transformation is only valid when x is real and positive. If Mathematica were to automatically do this simplification (or many others of a similar nature) it would not be an adequate tool for me or many other users since it would be creating erroneous output. Worse, even for those users where this happened to be the correct output, the issue gets hidden and they would learn to trust Mathematica only to lose trust when things were more complex. The point is mathematics is complex. A tool designed to implement mathematics can hardly be less complex. Attempts to reduce the complexity invariably mean some aspects (typically special cases) of the mathematics are being ignored or hidden. Ignoring or hiding such special cases limits the usefulness of Mathematica. >The second sentences above says, "Mathematica forms a rich complex >toolset for doing mathematica [NOTE: 'mathematica'] analysis." >Freudian slip? Simple typo. It should have been mathematical analysis.