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Re: Mathematica daily WTF

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg115139] Re: Mathematica daily WTF
  • From: AES <siegman at stanford.edu>
  • Date: Sun, 2 Jan 2011 04:55:24 -0500 (EST)
  • References: <ifj6n0$594$1@smc.vnet.net> <4D1E0675.6050306@cs.berkeley.edu> <ifmrvv$pim$1@smc.vnet.net>

In article <ifmrvv$pim$1 at smc.vnet.net>,
 Andrzej Kozlowski <akoz at mimuw.edu.pl> wrote:

> 
> anyway, it does not matter as far as the point I was making is concerned, 
> which is that the C-like structure of Mathematica procedural programs is 
> helpful to people (somewhat) familiar with C or Fortran.
> 

I'd argue it is also extremely helpful to people who _think_ physically, 
or if you like procedurally, and who are primarily focused on solving 
problems that have an inherently procedural character. 

The successive steps (lines, cells, expressions) in a procedural program 
will very often state or mimic or reproduce what happens as a function 
of time in a dynamic system, or as a function of distance as a wave 
propagates, or mimic the flow of control in a complex system, or . . . 

As such, they simplify the process of _coding_ these programs; they 
_document_ and make readable what the program is doing, step by step; 
they make it easy to _insert later refinements_ inside the procedure 
(e.g., tests for current values or for exceptional cases at points 
within the procedure).

All of these things are much more valuable to some of us in our use of 
Mathematica than the speed at which the code executes, or the brevity 
with which it can be typed.  And none of this is to argue that many 
basic functions within the language (things like Fourier transforms, 
finding matrix eigensolutions, many others) should not be provided and 
used as pre-coded non-procedural routines within larger programs.

I make a lot of use of self-programmed Modules[] in my own programming.  
The active or working part of the completed program, where numerical 
results get asked fror and results displayed, can be quite briefly 
written, mostly just setting input variables, then calling these 
modules.  But these modules themselves are heavily procedurally coded 
internally, and I think that makes a lot of sense.


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