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Re: General--Making the DisplayFormula style in ArticleModern look like Traditional

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg64889] Re: General--Making the DisplayFormula style in ArticleModern look like Traditional
  • From: Paul Abbott <paul at>
  • Date: Mon, 6 Mar 2006 05:02:03 -0500 (EST)
  • Organization: The University of Western Australia
  • References: <dthhpd$nhn$> <> <dtm6bo$hk2$> <> <> <> <du83gf$stn$>
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

In article <du83gf$stn$1 at>,
 Daniel Lichtblau <danl at> wrote:

> > [...]
> TagBoxes will not address the problem of reading ambiguous input and
> typing it into a notebook or package by eye. This is what a couple of
> TMJ readers did. Following which they wrote to tell me "my" code was not
> working.

These TMJ readers appear not to have read 7(2): 105-106 and 9(1): 31-34.

> > [...]
> > 
> >>There are other reasons I vastly prefer StandrdForm in Input cells. 
> >>But ambiguity, unlike my opinions, is a matter of hard unavoidable 
> >>fact. It is the solid basis for the claim that TraditionalForm 
> >>should not be used in that particular setting.
> > 
> > Amusing -- but ambiguity _is_ avoidable.
> In a notebook, yes. If one knows what to do to address it e.g. with
> TagBoxes (I do not). 

You _never_ need to enter the TagBoxes by hand. As explained in both TMJ 
columns referenced above, correctly formatted TraditionalForm 
expressions _should_ result from converting StandardForm or InputForm to 
TraditionalForm. If this conversion is not faithful then it is a 
Mathematica bug!

> Certainly if people want to privately pass around
> notebooks containing code, and prefer to see it in traditional form,
> this should be fine. 

Actually, this is the key point: TMJ comes with an electronic supplement 
with my Notebooks formatted using TraditionalForm. Your code 
(transformed by me into TraditionalForm) worked fine in the supplement. 
Now, why would the readers of TMJ not run the Notebooks from the 

If a user runs your code, or any Mathematica function, and uses the 
wrong syntax, then who is at fault?

> [...]
> I will confess there is a logic to your argument that I find compelling
> and cannot help but admire. In a nutshell:
> (1) I write code in InputForm. It works basically as expected.
> (2) You can convert it to TraditionalForm for, say, a TMJ column.
> (3) Readers may try to replicate it and for them it fails to work properly.
> (4) You can then claim this is a bug in the Mathematica kernel, in
> effect making it my responsibility.

No. My argument is that following (1) and (2) should always lead to 
correctly functioning code.

I never claimed (3). In fact I've twice pointed out in my TMJ columns 
the issues involved in using TraditionalForm.

Also, I expect that readers of TMJ have access to the electronic 
supplement. How else did they read the article?

> Okay, maybe you had in mind that it's only a bug if the electronic form
> fails to behave. 

That is correct.

> But not all readers will have access to, let alone use, the electronic form. 

I thought that all readers of TMJ had access to the Notebooks. Is that 
not correct?

> And of course this becomes the essential matter
> when the publication in question is not TMJ.

An example? To use _any_ notation, the notation should first be defined. 
This should be standard practice in any publication.
> This brings me back to my main point. Visually ambiguous code is not a
> valuable commodity.

Surely you would not argue that all two-dimensional input formats are 
not permissible? Mathematica includes palettes and the package 
Utilities`Notation` for removing/avoiding visual ambiguity.


Paul Abbott                                      Phone:  61 8 6488 2734
School of Physics, M013                            Fax: +61 8 6488 1014
The University of Western Australia         (CRICOS Provider No 00126G)    

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