MathGroup Archive 1997

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Re: Tracing

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg6776] Re: [mg6612] Tracing
  • From: seanross at
  • Date: Fri, 18 Apr 1997 02:37:44 -0400 (EDT)
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

Ivan G. Burch II wrote:
> Sean,
> Darn I was hoping that it would be a simple thing to do
> Sorry I did not respond faster I have been under the weather lately
> By the by:
> I know that simple programs as the one located in the software that is
> released with apples graphic calculator which does not use that much
> memory work great but I wanted MMA 3.0 which is a powerful program to do
> the things that it should already be doing
> Sincerely,
> Ivan G. Burch II aka enforcer
> at email address:
> "ivanb at"

     You seem to have some definite idealistic notions about what ultra 
high level computer languages should and should not do.  Before you get 
totally disgusted with mathematica or matlab or maple etc., try to 
remember that the more general a problem solving tool is, the less 
likely it is to have your exact problem already solved.  The handheld 
calculator is a primary example of this.  Most calculators use binary 
coded decimal and return answers that have better precision than double 
precision reals in most computer languages.  Most graphing calculators 
do certain specialized tasks quite easily, but that is all they do.  I 
have seen the graphing calculator program that comes with Macs and it is 
quite spectacular with 3-D rendering of analytic functions.  But it is a 
one trick pony.
    We get a lot of questions on the users group that sound like:   "Can 
I do ..... with mathematica"?  What the person usually means is "Has 
someone already solved my exact problem so I can just type in a one line 
command and be done with it"?  In so doing, they show that they are 
thinking of mathematica like it was a hand held calculator with a few 
thousand buttons rather than a programming language.  I find it is 
better to think of mathematica like c++ with a bunch of header files in 
it for numerical analysis that a collection of solutions to particular 
problems.  In other words, mathematica is not a "powerful program", it 
is a powerful programming language.

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