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Re: Language vs. Library

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  • Subject: [mg61087] Re: [mg61054] Language vs. Library
  • From: Andrzej Kozlowski <akoz at>
  • Date: Mon, 10 Oct 2005 02:39:49 -0400 (EDT)
  • References: <>
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

THe short answer is no. One might argue that the "core language" is  
whatever is documented in the latest version of Mathematica's online  
help (and this is expanded with every release), not counting the Add- 
On packages and various functions that exist in contexts such as  
Experimental or Internal, but even that would not satisfy any  
definition of a "core". One problem with defining the "core language"  
is the fact that even the correct Mathematica syntax, particularly  
where pattern matching is concerned, is not precisely defined. There  
are many patterns that you can try to make where it is impossible to  
tell from any documentation whether they ought to work or not, and  
actually there are reasons to suspect that nobody knows (and that  
includes WRI employees) until they try it.

Personally I am not convinced that this is a bad thing, or that it  
would be practical to try to change it (just imagine the size of any  
documentation that made a serious attempt at achieving this). I think  
Mathematica's language's strong points are its exceptional  
intuitively and flexibility.It seems to me also that  these "virtues"  
of the Mathematica language are also among the causes of the above  
mentioned difficulties: there are many things in Mathematica's  
language that one expects would work solely because it seems so  
natural that they should, and not surprisingly they sometimes do not.  
I can't really see how one could try to document it or how anyone  
could make practical use of such documentation if it existed. But  
without such documentation I do not think the concept of "core  
language" makes much sense.

Andrzej Kozlowski

On 9 Oct 2005, at 14:35, Steven T. Hatton wrote:

> If we look at compiled and byte compiled languages such as C,C+ 
> +,Java, C#,
> etc., we see they typically consist of a core language, and standard
> libraries.  In C, and C++ the demarcation is very clear. I know  
> I've asked
> a similar question in the past, but it's something that recures to  
> me every
> time I start working with Mathematica.  Is there a core Mathematica
> language?  If so, what does it consist of?
> -- 
> "Philosophy is written in this grand book, The Universe. ... But  
> the book
> cannot be understood unless one first learns to comprehend the  
> language...
> in which it is written. It is written in the language of  
> mathematics, ...;
> without which wanders about in a dark labyrinth."   The Lion of Gaul

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