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Re: Mathematica skill level snippet(s)

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  • Subject: [mg104676] Re: Mathematica skill level snippet(s)
  • From: AES <siegman at>
  • Date: Sat, 7 Nov 2009 06:43:25 -0500 (EST)
  • Organization: Stanford University
  • References: <hd0t9u$82o$>

In article <hd0t9u$82o$1 at>, Virgil Stokes <vs at> 

> I am a teacher and am often faced with the problem of how to determine 
> the programming skill level for some of my students (3rd year 
> undergraduates in Engineering and Physics). Knowledge of their skills in 
> Mathematica can be very important for the design of student projects 
> that require Mathematica.
> I would appreciate suggestions for small segments of Mathematica code 
> (or perhaps a single segment of increasing complexity) that could be 
> used to at least get an idea of their skills in Mathematica. You can 
> assume they would be using Mathematica 7.
> All suggestions, examples, comments, etc. will be welcomed :-)
> --V. Stokes

Think of the problem in terms of **vocabulary**?  How many words of the 
Mathematica vocabulary do they know? -- or do you want them to know 
and be able to use?

Maybe break this down into categories, e.g.:

*  What David Park calls "set pieces" (Plot, ListPlot, Table) and the 
options they should know for each.

*  Standard functions and list operators [Sin, Cos, Total]

*  Arcane symbols:  =, ==, :=, ->

*  Ways of formatting input and output, graphics operators or options.

*  Ways of constructing Functions, Blocks, Modules, arguments.

and decide what you want them know in each category, and to what level 
of detail?  Then put just the names of these (not definitions) in a 

[Side question:  How many total words and symbols are there in the 
**full** Mathematica vocabulary?  If you made a glossary of **every** 
single documented term (symbol name, function, option, operator, 
non-alphameric symbol, etc, etc in Mathematica 7), how many terms would 
be in it?]

[I'm guessing maybe 3000 or 4000?  Or even more?]

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