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Re: Re: Mathematica skill level snippet(s)

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  • Subject: [mg104860] Re: [mg104824] Re: Mathematica skill level snippet(s)
  • From: "David Park" <djmpark at>
  • Date: Thu, 12 Nov 2009 06:01:46 -0500 (EST)
  • References: <200911917250.789293@jfultz2winlap> <hdbhn2$jol$> <29948190.1257934266130.JavaMail.root@n11>

Well, there is the ColorSchemes palette, where colors can be clicked in, but
not always the shortcut version. And there is ColorData[] and

ColorData["Gradients"] // Column

But a casual user of Mathematica might not know about that. Options in
String form are probably a reasonable solution for many special facilities
and keeps the 'official' list of Mathematica symbols from ballooning. It
would help if they were better documented.

1) I think Bill Rowe made a good point that much of Mathematica mirrors
mathematics so one is not learning an entirely new subject.

2) I for one think the Mathematica documentation is fairly good and allows
one to drill down to special topics. Of course, it can always be improved in
places and extended but I think WRI has made a tremendous effort with the

3) Nevertheless, there is so much to Mathematica such as learning basic
syntax, the core commands, functional commands, plotting, use of options,
equation solving, color specification, etc., that I am dubious about
advanced students taking on advanced topics with only a brief introduction
to Mathematica. I suspect they may only do well in a limited way, such as
modifying a basic scheme already set out for them. (I may be biased in this
view because of my own limitations.)

4) It would be far better if students heading for a technical career started
learning Mathematica in high school and didn't have to struggle with the
basics when they got to college.

5) It will help if Mathematica gets more "settled down". Version 6 was
really jarring to many users - and yet, I for one, really appreciate the new
capabilities that came with it.

David Park
djmpark at  

From: fd [mailto:fdimer at] 

I believe that any user of a complex software (like MS word for
example) will use just a fraction of the functionalities in it - a
knowledge which generally increases with time. From my experience it
is usually easier to do things in Mathematica than in any other
program. Compare with SPSS, which I tried to use a while ago: I had to
navigate through many menus with heaps of functionalities, and very
difficult to reproduce steps. Mathematica has some it functions not
well documented for sure, like GeoPosition for example, what I
understand as it is quite recently incorporated.

What I'm not quite happy with is when some options are given as
strings (for e.g. the ColorFunction option in DensityPlot[Sin[x y],
{x, 0, 3}, {y, 0, 3},  ColorFunction -> "BlueGreenYellow"] ), this
confuses me a bit as I can't know all the options available apart from
looking in the documentation (how could I know there is also an
ColorFunction->"Rainbow"? Is there a general way of finding all
possible names a option my have?).

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