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Re: Mathematica skill level snippet(s)

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  • Subject: [mg104808] Re: Mathematica skill level snippet(s)
  • From: Bill Rowe <readnews at>
  • Date: Tue, 10 Nov 2009 06:02:25 -0500 (EST)

On 11/9/09 at 5:47 AM, siegman at (AES) wrote:

>Lurking behind my original question is, admittedly, my continuing
>concern that Wolfram, in its continuing attempt to make Mathematica
>into a single app that does absolutely everything for everyone, is
>instead creating a monster that has become increasing difficult for
>more and more of its potential audience to use.

>If you view Mathematica as a "second language" that its potential
>users must learn to use and communicate in, the vocabulary size of
>Mathematica then becomes one metric for measuring this.

It is reasonable to view Mathematica as a "language" with a
vocabulary and syntax to be learned. But. the total number of
symbols really isn't a good metric of what must be learned to
use Mathematica effectively. This metric probably is a
reasonable metric only if you assume starting with very little
knowledge of mathematics.

Most of the things in Mathematica's vocabulary have a one to one
correspondence with the something in mathematics. The naming
convention used in Mathematica makes this correspondence fairly
obvious. So, for someone who already has a good grasp of
Mathematics, the vocabulary to be learned in order to use
Mathematica effectively is much smaller than the total list of
symbols available.

The key here is the intended audience for Mathematica. I don't
see the primary purpose of Mathematica as being teaching mathematics.

One other point. Like mathematics, it is not necessary to learn
everything in Mathematica before making effective use of Mathematica.

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