Re: Re: Mathematica skill level snippet(s)

*To*: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net*Subject*: [mg104814] Re: [mg104778] Re: Mathematica skill level snippet(s)*From*: DrMajorBob <btreat1 at austin.rr.com>*Date*: Tue, 10 Nov 2009 06:03:33 -0500 (EST)*References*: <hd0t9u$82o$1@smc.vnet.net> <hd3n4j$a2k$1@smc.vnet.net>*Reply-to*: drmajorbob at yahoo.com

As your own quotations from the reference show, it's not necessary to know even 10% of the word families in a second language. Even native speakers typically don't know half. That likely applies (approximately) to Mathematica as well, so you haven't demonstrated a problem with the size of Mathematica. It's also MUCH smaller than any spoken language... although admittedly, the meaning of a Mathematica "word" can be quite involved. We learn whatever subset we need, and that's a continual but manageable effort. Bobby On Mon, 09 Nov 2009 04:47:04 -0600, AES <siegman at stanford.edu> wrote: > In article <hd6bbm$odf$1 at smc.vnet.net>, > "Nasser M. Abbasi" <nma at 12000.org> wrote: > >> > [Side question: How many total words and symbols are there in the >> > **full** Mathematica vocabulary? >> > >> > [I'm guessing maybe 3000 or 4000? Or even more?] > >> For version 7, Length[Names[â??System`*â??]] results in 3429 >> >> <http://12000.org/my_notes/compare_mathematica/index.htm> >> >> My theory is this: A Mathematica expert is someone have used more than >> 50% >> of these symbols. I am still working on my 5% :) > > > Fascinating results -- I'm very impressed that you've done this. > > 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. > > I'm no expert on vocabulary sizes myself, and recognize that it's a > complex subject; but one readable essay on the subject seems to be: > > <http://www1.harenet.ne.jp/~waring/papers/cup.html> > > A few snippets from this essay (very heavily excerpted) are appended > below. There's a great deal more it; but I suggest that comparing it to > Mathematica's vocabulary size, and thinking about Mathematica as a > second language that users have to learn, ***and then use with absolute > precision***, is an instructive exercise. > > ---------- > > VOCABULARY SIZE, TEXT COVERAGE AND WORD LISTS > > Paul Nation and Robert Waring > > How much vocabulary does a second language learner need? > > There are three ways of answering this question. One way is to ask "How > many words are there in the target language?" Another way is to ask "How > many words do native speakers know?" A third way is to ask "How many > words are needed to do the things that a language user needs to do?" We > will look at answers to each of these questions. > > How many words are there in English? > > Webster's 3rd has a vocabulary of around 54,000 word families. This is a > learning goal far beyond the reaches of second language learners and, as > we shall see, most native speakers. > > How many words do native speakers know? > > At present the best conservative rule of thumb that we have is that up > to a vocabulary size of around 20,000 word families, we should expect > that native speakers will add roughly 1000 word families a year to their > vocabulary size. That means that a five year old beginning school will > have a vocabulary of around 4000 to 5000 word families. A university > graduate will have a vocabulary of around 20,000 word families (Goulden, > Nation and Read, 1990). These figures are very rough and there is likely > to be very large variation between individuals. > > For adult learners of English as a foreign language, the gap between > their vocabulary size and that of native speakers is usually very large, > with many adult foreign learners of English having a vocabulary size of > much less than 5000 word families in spite of having studied English for > several years. Large numbers of second language learners do achieve > vocabulary sizes that are like those of educated native speakers, but > they are not the norm. > > How many words are needed to do the things a language user needs to do? > > The significance of this information is that although there are well > over 54,000 word families in English, and although educated adult native > speakers know around 20,000 of these word families, a much smaller > number of words, say between 3,000 to 5,000 word families is needed to > provide a basis for comprehension. It is possible to make use of a > smaller number, around 2,000 to 3,000 for productive use in speaking and > writing. Hazenburg and Hulstijn (1996) however suggest a figure nearer > to 10,000 for Dutch as a second language. > > --------------- > -- DrMajorBob at yahoo.com