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Re: Newby Q: How to specify reals

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg110541] Re: Newby Q: How to specify reals
  • From: AES <siegman at stanford.edu>
  • Date: Thu, 24 Jun 2010 04:27:51 -0400 (EDT)
  • References: <hvs7n2$8v0$1@smc.vnet.net>

In article <hvs7n2$8v0$1 at smc.vnet.net>,
 "David Park" <djmpark at comcast.net> wrote:

> When working with complex expressions your best friend is the ComplexExpand
> command. For some reason, this command doesn't immediately jump to the
> notice of beginners and this leads to frequent questions on MathGroup.

It doesn't immediately jump to the notice of beginners because:

1)  Unlike familiar commands or functions or operators such as Sin, Cos, 
Exp, SquareRoot, or even Re[-] or Im[-] or complex conjugate, there is 
no such command or operator in "ordinary mathematics."  

No one _says_ "ComplexExpand" in ordinary mathematical discourse, and 
the term would not have been encountered by the ordinary high school or 
even college graduate.

2)  It's bizarrely named.  SeriesExpand _expands_ into a series.  
ComplexExpand[Re[expr]] trims, or selects.

3)  And, because of Mathematica's generally dysfunctional documentation 
-- e.g. "ComplexExpand" is not even mentioned in tutorial/ComplexNumbers
and if it's mentioned in ref/Conjugate, it's buried somewhere down in 
the nested and closed subsections and therefore cannot be _searched_ for 
using any kind of Find command.


Would anyone suggest that the occurrence of "frequent questions on 
MathGroup" might indicate a weakness, or even a product defect, in this 
particular Mathematica design decision?


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