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Re: Algorithm Analysis Course: Should I use Mathematica for projects?
On 7/11/2012 3:25 PM, Brentt wrote: > Hi, > > I'm an undergrad math major, and taking a cross disciplinary Algorithm > Analysis course in the fall. I talked to the professor and he said we can > use whichever language we like and Mathematica would be fine if it had a > way to evaluate run-time. > > Two questions: > > I think the required capabilities are those found in the documentation > under "Time Measurement & Optimization". Would this be correct? And would > those functions be adequate for an algorithm analysis course? My guess is that those measurement tools would be fine. The problem is that Mathematica is unsuitable as a programming language. > > > I know this list would be a little biased but: should I use Mathematica? You could write the programs, but the timing would look nonsensical without substantial explanation. > > Cons: I absolutely adore Mathematica and never find myself wanting to > program in anything else (I've toyed with Python and other languages, but > Mathematica inspires me to play with programming like other languages have > not), and thought committing to Python for the class might expand my > programming skills. You should use a conventional programming language which supports conventional data structures. This could be python, or C or Java or Lisp. Also I'm guessing the course will focus on procedural > algorithms which might not be a good fit for Mathematica's functional > paradigm. Probably not an issue. I know Mathematica can be shoehorned in to any paradigm, but > maybe it'd be better to use a more procedural language. It would be better to use a programming language in which Lists are lists, not arrays and accessing elements in an array of length N is an O(1) operation, not O(N). Your times and the expectations of the class/instructor/exams/homeworks would work together if you used a language which did not disrespect the fundamentals of data structures. > > Pros: I will learn Mathematica with more depth, and there are good reasons > to get really good at one thing as opposed to OK at many things. It is unlikely that having an in-depth understanding of Mathematica will have a strongly positive impact on what you do after graduation. Compared (say) with experience in a more commonly used programming language. Plus what > I learn in Mathematica may just as well translate to other languages anyway > so it may not be a big deal which I choose. To some extent Mathematica makes a hash of "paradigms" from other programming languages, with a dose of mathematical procedures. Learning functional programming from Mathematica seems to me to be an unappealing prospect. Ask your instructor for a recommendation of a programming language, and learn that one. Good luck. > > Input anyone? >