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Re: Mathematica daily WTF

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  • Subject: [mg115000] Re: Mathematica daily WTF
  • From: Bill Rowe <readnews at>
  • Date: Tue, 28 Dec 2010 06:48:32 -0500 (EST)

On 12/26/10 at 4:02 AM, at (kj) wrote:

>In <if1o3h$p60$1 at> Bill Rowe <readnews at>

>>Adding more layers of abstraction won't change this behavior.
>>Additional layers of abstraction simply obscures the fact that Set
>>doesn't pass on attributes.

>Our brains, yours and mine, are clearly deformed in very different

Undoubtedly true

>Mine has been deformed by programming languages other than

There was a time when I used C or C++ heavily. For me, this was
late 80's to early 90's. I started Mathematica with version 1.2
around 1990. Eventually, I started using Mathematica over C/C++.
Since about 2000 I've been using Mathematica on a daily basis
pretty much to the exclusion of anything else. So, at this
point, programming in Mathematica has pretty much crowded out my
previous experience with other programming languages/environments.

>Bottom-line: the meanings that Mathematica puts on of
>bread-and-butter programming terms like "="/"assignment", "value",
>and "dynamic scope" are entirely sui-generis,

This certainly has a lot of truth to it.

>and therefore the Mathematica documentation should at least show the
>user the courtesy of making this perfectly clear, rather than let
>him/her figure all this out through hard knocks

I can see where that would be useful to those well experienced
in other programming languages

>(in the form of "things that *should* work but don't").

Your "should work" is clearly based on your other programming
experiences. Mathematica clearly has a lot in common with other
programming languages/environments but still remains unique. And
this is where your experience leads you too the problems of
"should work but doesn't".

I am reminded of an experience I had traveling to England to
discuss technical design details of an ASIC with another
engineer employed by the company I was visiting. We both spoke
English fluently as for both of us English was our native
tongue. Yet, I found I had to be very careful about word usage
during conversations to ensure my meaning was truly
communicated. In many ways, things would have been simpler had
we both not been native English speakers. Then there would have
been no assumptions about shared meaning.

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