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Re: Work on Basic Mathematica Stephen!

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  • Subject: [mg131000] Re: Work on Basic Mathematica Stephen!
  • From: David Bailey <dave at>
  • Date: Sun, 2 Jun 2013 00:29:54 -0400 (EDT)
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  • References: <kmngb2$3rv$> <knv529$j91$>

On 27/05/2013 09:21, John Doty wrote:
> I'm another Mathematica old-timer. In early versions, Mathematica had a simple basic vocabulary of definitions, augmentable by "add-ons". This was a good thing. The basics could be covered by an actual book you could hold in your hand. But now, Mathematica has a vast flat vocabulary supported by vast flat documentation. This is not a big problem for those of us who are already familiar with it, but I can't see how a new user can cope.
This is a very valid criticism, and indeed, one reason I stopped giving 
introductory Mathematica courses, was that the language had become so 
big, that I couldn't possibly cover even a "basic subset" of its 

Certain weed killers operate by promoting wild uncoordinated growth - 
which kills the plant.

The sheer range of functions available, can give rise to some ludicrous 
misconceptions. For example, I came across one person who was using 
SelectionEvaluate as his way of "calling a function in another notebook"!

At the very least, someone needs to classify the functions in some way 
so as to ease the burden on the beginner. The classification tags could 

Basic maths
Notebook manipulation
<Various domain specific topics>

The tags might also contain some indication of the level of 
sophistication expected - beginner, intermediate, advanced.

Users might even find it helpful to hide functionality that they decided 
was not appropriate to them. This might have solved the example I gave 

David Bailey

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