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Re: Mathematica and some General Comments

On 3/13/09 at 4:48 AM, mariano.suarezalvarez at (Mariano
Su=C3=A1rez-Alvarez) wrote:

>But: the difference between "traditional" computation (I do not have
>a better term...) and computation done using closed applications is
>that in the first, at least in principle, there is complete openness
>as to what was done, while in the second there is a party *actively*
>withholding possibly relevant information. (The motivation for that
>withholding is probably not confounding mathematicians all over the
>globe; it is not difficult, e.g., to come up with a few possible
>reasons which make WRI not keep an openly accessible list of bugs,
>all more trite than world domination)

The idea that an open source version of Mathematica (if it
existed) would somehow give more assurance than the existing
version really isn't valid. The lack of source code for
Mathematica in no way prevents you from verifying any
computation done with Mathematica. Mathematica's rich tool set
gives you the tools to solve any computational problem without
using any particular built-in function. That is you can replace
any built-in function with Mathematic code using other
functions. The only issue is your time and ability. The ability
to replace any function with independent code gives you a method
to validate any computation without having the source code.

Further, most users have neither the time nor the knowledge
needed to review the source code to find bugs. In fact, the time
needed to review the source code adequately probably exceeds the
time needed to validate a computation using a different
approach/algorithm in many cases.

And since bugs are simply instances of a computation giving
incorrect results, an openly accessible bug list isn't needed
any more than the source code. The only advantage I can see to
an openly accessible bug list is that it might save time/effort
spent verifying a given computation done in Mathematica is correct.

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