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Re: Mathematica and some General Comments

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg97431] Re: Mathematica and some General Comments
  • From: mike.honeychurch at
  • Date: Fri, 13 Mar 2009 04:49:15 -0500 (EST)
  • References: <goqphr$lt2$> <gp5fou$9nr$>

On Mar 12, 2:21 am, Arturas Acus <a... at> wrote:
> On Wed, 11 Mar 2009, mike.honeychu... at wrote:
> > On Mar 10, 5:35 am, Sebastian Meznaric <mezna... at> wrote:
> >> I don't think Mathematica should replace mathematics. It is an
> >> important tool, but very importantly, a commercial closed-source tool.
> >> It costs a great deal of money and you do not know what it is doing
> >> (although most of the time it gives correct results). Only systems
> >> that can be considered to generally replace Mathematics have got to be
> >> open source (although I admit I do not use any). If at least the basis
> >> of Mathematica was made open-source with paid-for support from Wolfram
> >> that would make things a lot better. As it stands, we should not chain
> >> people to commercial software.
> > Other than people who use pencils and paper, or blackboards and
> > chalk*, everyone is "chained" to commercial products in their
> > workplaces. We need to "free" our minds a bit from the idea that
> > software should somehow be an exception to everything else that occurs
> > in our workplaces. Or alternatively perhaps someone can explain to me
> > why software should be any different to scientific equipment, cars,
> > dishwashers...
> It is because
> 1) once made you, can make as many copies as you wish at zero cost. This
>   significally  differs from say, cars.

So because something has a small marginal cost (packaging & handling &
shipping) the producer should make it open source or free?

How would wolfram pay for future development, not to mention pay for
HR staff, receptionists, cleaners and afford to lease its
offices? ...or should a software company cease to exist once a product
is developed? Do you really think we'd be using V7 of Mathematica if
this was made open source in 1988?

> 2) The scientific software and computers OS are UNIVERSAL tools. Nobody
> wants to build your own tool on the soft/weak ground. If you write your
> program for windows OS, do it mean you work for Microsoft? For free ...

Electricity and water are more UNIVERSAL tools and more important than
software. The marginal cost of supplying an extra quantum of
electricity or an extra litre of water (except in times of drought)
is, like software, virtually nil.

Should these things also be free? I'm sure it would be possible to
come up with plenty of other examples of (almost) zero marginal cost
products which fail to attract the criticism that software does.

My reason for posting was to challenge this assumption that software
should somehow be different. I'm waiting for someone to make the case.

> I cannot use an open source mass spectrometer, drive an
> > open source car [although GM and Ford are verging on open source :),
> > or at least maybe publicly owned soon] etc.
> These are limited/specialized tools. But thing about roads and
> communication lines owned by sigle company. I doubt you could convenient
> drive Fiat car on Fords highways.

but nevertheless toll roads exist, owned by private companies, do they

> > Mike
> > *these are also commercial products of course

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