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Re: Work on Basic Mathematica Stephen!

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  • Subject: [mg130903] Re: Work on Basic Mathematica Stephen!
  • From: Richard Fateman <fateman at>
  • Date: Fri, 24 May 2013 06:25:37 -0400 (EDT)
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On 5/23/2013 12:56 AM, mathgroup wrote:
> David...
> But that was exactly my point...I tried so hard with our Community College
> and University to get Mathematica into the curriculum....or, as I said, to
> give some lectures and examples on the use of Mathematica....and ALL of
> them,  Engineering, Math and Physics Depts said  'Thanks but No Thanks', as
> if they have something against Mathematica....It seemed that the idea that
> students would not use pencil and paper in as laborious a manner as possible
> really bothered them....Not once did they think perhaps this might lead to a
> real enjoyment of technical subjects and perhaps to much better
> understanding of their course work......even when I was working I was
> affectionately known as 'The Mathematica Nut'...although, I'm reminded of
> something that Nietzsche said....

People are naturally interested in optimizing their jobs.
Teachers don't want to change their courses, learn new things, make hard 
decisions like what to REMOVE from the course to make
space for Mathematica, or deal with Nuts.

  If a teacher is shown a program that does the same thing as what he 
(or she) teaches, it strongly suggests that it is not worth teaching.
Also it strongly
suggests to the student that it is not worth learning.

Regarding djmpark's vision.. do we believe that notebooks based on 
Mathematica will have higher integrity?  Possibly lower, at
least to the extent that the author is explicitly dependent on 
Mathematica, bugs and all, rather than clear presentation that can
be understood and read by other humans.  Would you believe a theorem
that was "proved" by Mathematica using methods that you could not
understand and might in fact be secret as well as erroneous?

A traditional presentation could implicitly be based on Mathematica or
other computer programs, but would have to be refined and endorsed
by humans.

Or it could be done entirely by hand. The background might
contain an alternative "proof by computer"  or "data files / method to
reproduce results".  Or the background and foreground could be 
interleaved as literate programming.  Evidence to date is that most
programmers are unable to write correct code most of the time.
Demanding that they write literate code is a step beyond correct.

Incidentally, fostering a library of free contributed code has

  Most code contributed by users is poor.  Even if it works for
the particular application that prompted the user to program it, it
is unlikely to be general, bug-free, efficient, etc.   Most users
are poor programmers.

Also, why should it be free?  Should Wolfram be the only person to 
profit from the sale of programs?


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