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Re: On the foundation of Mathematica, was Re: Foo /: Plus[b_Foo] := b

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg114613] Re: On the foundation of Mathematica, was Re: Foo /: Plus[b_Foo] := b
  • From: kj <no.email at please.post>
  • Date: Fri, 10 Dec 2010 02:30:30 -0500 (EST)
  • References: <idqcv3$j1o$1@smc.vnet.net>

In <idqcv3$j1o$1 at smc.vnet.net> "Nasser M. Abbasi" <nma at 12000.org> writes:

>On 12/8/2010 3:40 AM, Andrzej Kozlowski wrote:

>> The behaviour of these attributes is certainly not fully documented and
>>  probably will never be. Why? I guess it is because it belongs to the very
>>  foundations of the Mathematica language and I think there is nobody today
>>  at Wolfram who still thinks about such issues but this is, of course,
>>  just a guess. I think Allan's explanation will always remain as close as
>>  anyone will ever come to explaining this matter.

>I was amazed to read the above.  Isn't the above scary to know?

I interpreted Andrzej's remark to mean "anyone outside the confines
of WRI".  It strikes me as highly unlikely that the matter is not
very well understood internally at WRI, even if it is not a area
in which they are actively working on right now.

>You say somethings that "belongs to the very foundations of the
>Mathematica language", yet at the same time you say "not fully
>documented".

>In other languages, there is always an "official Language reference
>manual" that would contain in it _everything_ about the language.

The important thing to know is that this omission is not an isolated
error, but rather a matter of policy.  The entire Mathematica
documentation is an exercise in revealing the bare minimum that
they feel they can get away with.  WRI has always flouted the
standards of documentation you allude to.

This policy has long been inexplicable to me, to put it mildly.
I hope that some day someone with first-hand knowledge of what this
official policy is will divulge it to the world (WikiLeaks, anyone?).
If that ever happens, I'd be surprised if it didn't turn out to be
a huge embarrassment for WRI.  It's hard for me to imagine any
plausible defense for the grossly incomplete documentation that
WRI churns out, I don't care how pretty it looks.

In the meantime, WRI staff find it funny that their customers waste
hours figuring out bugs caused by undocumented details such as this
one.  Ha-ha.  Hil-a-rious.

~kj


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