MathGroup Archive 2001

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  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg29482] Originality
  • From: "Orestis Vantzos" <atelesforos at>
  • Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2001 02:20:10 -0400 (EDT)
  • Organization: National Technical University of Athens, Greece
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

Many people post to this group with original ideas, some feasible, some not,
some interesing, some not. Well, in any case original. It takes some mental
discipline for the advanced users (pardon me the vanity to include myself)
to really think about what the poor newbie says. And I am not talking about
the posts of the form "I have a problem, bla bla bla..." or "My Mathematica
has a bug, bla bla bla...", I am talking about the "Wouldn't it be
nice/interesting/whatever, to do bla,bla,bla...". Better alternatives are
ever so obvious, implementation weaknesses can be pointed immediately -
basically the first impression is usually "what is this guy talking about?"
Mathematica is so vast and versatile,  that I think we don't have yet a full
grasp of its possibilities. So when people think of a weird way to do
something and they post it in the best Mathematica implementation they can
think of (which is probably not that good- Mathematica has a bitch of a
learning curve), we beat each other to the keyboard to provide our code,
often in the form of "the right code". Some among us even beat the ambitious
newbie into pulp, rushing to show him just how pointless and reduntant his
approach is. A clear point is made: "we don't need your thoughts, we have
everything solved".
Ponder this my fellow "Mathematica Gurus":
A weird mathematician walks into a programmer's office and starts talking
about a program with symbolic capabilities, that will provide a front-end
with formitable typesetting and graphic features and will be based on
functional and rule-based programming.
The programmer listens to all this and says:
"Your thoughts are foolish- we have fortran,C,linpack,whatever for
mathematics and as for typesetting you have LaTeX And who would program with
RULES?! All the major software engineering projects are procedural/object
oriented. You don't need it, it can't be done, it would be too slow, there
are other programs that do the same thing, and so on and so on..."
You get the picture, I suppose...originality IS immature; there is no other
way. It is not a local maximum, my friends - it is a departure from local
maxima in search of greener pastures. So when you encounter it, pointing to
your local max won't help ;-)
Handle it with care please...if some people didn't pursuit their "foolish"
dreams, we would all be talking in the FORTRAN2K forum now.
Orestis Vantzos

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