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Re: Re: Re: Mathematica and some General

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  • Subject: [mg97446] Re: [mg97360] Re: [mg97324] Re: Mathematica and some General
  • From: peter <plindsay.0 at>
  • Date: Fri, 13 Mar 2009 04:52:03 -0500 (EST)
  • References: <goqphr$lt2$> <gp5fou$9nr$>

I think you are assuming bottomless grit and determination on the part of
the hapless punter. He is prepared to invest endless effort in learning
whatever language is thrown at him, whatever the syntactic idiosyncrasy, and
however incomplete the documentation. The reality is that I [ is it only me
? ] rapidly lose the will to live when diverted from my main goal of problem
solving by syntax issues. I guess what we need is a Babel Fish for
Mathematics software.
Where is Douglas Adams when you need him ?

2009/3/12 George Woodrow III <georgevw3 at>

> Sure, there are problems with proprietary software of any kind. Companies
> close, or change the direction of their products. (In my opinion, MS would
> be in much better shape and useful to me if Word had stuck with version 5.2
> other than compatibility updates. ;-)
> However, the important thing in mathematics are the ideas. The Mathematica,
> c++, or other codes are 'just' implementations.
> The hard part of any task is solving the problem. One the problem is
> solved, the implementation can, in some sense, be termed trivial. Over the
> years, I have had to implement the solution to the same problem several
> different times, as the tools available changed -- from PDP-5s to my MacBook
> Pro.
> Mathematica is an efficient means. I have to write far less code than I
> would implementing a solution in c. Despite minor problems with
> documentation, using Mathematica has far less hassle than dealing with a set
> of open source tools.
> One is 'locked in' to Mathematica only if one is using the system as a
> crutch: not learning how to integrate because Mathematica does it for you or
> not learning how to deal with matrices. Granted, it takes time to master any
> system, and 'experts' may be locked in because their job depends on knowing
> the specific magic incantations for Mathematica, but this is true for almost
> any job.
> All of us are dependent on the kindness of strangers, even those who just
> use a number 2 pencil and pad. All the books and journal articles make it
> possible to solve problems without re-inventing the wheel. In principle,
> software tools are essentially the same. Unlike my work in the 1970s and
> 1980s, I don't have to roll my own routines or design my own graphics.
> I see no insurmountable problem with 'changing brands'. If Mathematica
> disappeared tomorrow, it would take time to learn the specifics of another
> system, but my knowledge of the problem and the solutions to problems would
> not change.
> I am reminded of the lines from a temp secretary in the movie "Dave" : "I
> learned on the Wang, and they put me on the IBM. I can't do the IBM". (This
> was a 1993 movie when Wang sold intelligent typewriters.)
> Some people are interested in Mathematica for its own sake, just as there
> are people who are interested in c++ for its own sake.
> For my part, I am interested in finding out things using mathematics.
> Mathematica is a wonderful tool that I use on this journey, but it is only a
> tool. I can use other tools, but I cannot replace my knowledge of
> mathematics, logic, chemistry, philsophy, .... Mathematica, at its best,
> lets me solve problems efficiently so that I have time for my real work.
> george woodrow
> On Mar 12, 2009, at 3:14 AM, peter wrote:
>  Its the danger of being "locked-in" to a product that people are concerned
>> about. Changing chalk brand isn't going to ruin your Maths day, unless the
>> chalk is rubbish of course. One can imagine there is some risk to getting
>> locked-in to Mathematica or any other proprietary brand competitor. Even
>> with C++, Fortran etc you can get so dependent on proprietary libraries,
>> which may be "black-boxes", that you'd be struggling to cope if you had to
>> change brand ?
>> 2009/3/11 <mike.honeychurch at>
>>  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... 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.
>>> Mike
>>> *these are also commercial products of course
>> --
>> Peter Lindsay

Peter Lindsay

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