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Re: Stephen Wolfram's recent blog
Posted:
Feb 15, 2013 3:35 AM


This sort of thing has appeared on this forum so often that it is in danger of catching up with RJF's tedious nit picking but unlike in this latter case there is no obvious intention to annoy someone so it merits a brief response.
All the things written below may well be arguably true of Mathematica but not of the language used by Mathematica. That such a language exists is beyond dispute: it has syntax and it has semantics which makes it a language. Unlike most other computer languages (but like natural languages) it has never been formally defined and so there is some doubt about what belongs to it and what does not, but that does not stop it being a language. Just like with a natural language, having a name for it or deciding what belongs to it or not, is not very important unless the language begins to be used outside its native environment. Anything that is spoken by people in England is English by definition, the issue only arises when other's start using it. Is American English a different or the same language? The very asking of this question requires naming the language(s) involved.
Similarly the issue of the name of the Mathematica language arises only if it is going to be used by other programs than Mathematica. This is actually already happening. These programs, by the way, do not aspire to reproduce the "MagicPaper" aspects of Mathematica, hence this and the other proposals below are quite irrelevant. The issue is really only about syntax and (to a lesser degree) semantics and therefore about "a language".
Andrzej Kozlowski
On 14 Feb 2013, at 08:10, djmpark <djmpark@comcast.net> wrote:
> Can we answer here? That's what I'm going to do because it seems the better > venue and I don't have to type into a small box. > > This raises a number of questions. What does "freely available" mean? Can we > expect a major change in the business model? And what does Stephen mean by " > the programming language of Mathematica ". Is it everything one types in a > notebook? Or just things that get sent to the kernel? How about things that > get sent to the front end? How about Text cells and Section headers? > > The way I feel about it is: "We don't need no stinking programming > language!" Many of the employees at WRI need a programming language but why > do the users need one? > > Instead of thinking of writing a computer program, why can't one think of > writing function definitions, equations, specifications (for a graphic or > table say, or for initial data), axioms (as Rules say) and other literate > forms of expression? I like to think of Mathematica as a piece of paper on > which we develop, write, and communicate ideas with a significant > mathematical or computational content. > > So how about a name like MagicPaper because the piece of paper has rather > magical qualities, with its computational power, memory and access to a wide > spectrum of information? Or maybe CPR for Computational Paper with > Resources. It really does get to the heart of the matter. Maybe static > "Paper" is not quite right but Windows might annoy the Mac people and > Screens isn't too great. Anyway, paper was used to doodle, try out ideas, > calculate and do symbolic math, and communicate ideas and that's what we > want to catch. > > I see people who write in "Mathematica" as ranging from those simply using > it as a graphical calculator, to those writing extensive scholarly works > (which I call Actomes for Active Tomes) that consist of books in the form of > a collection of notebooks, a number of packages with full documentation > (through Workbench unless WRI comes up with something better). These can be > wonderful things because they can act as a vehicle for exchanging ideas and > further development between authors and readers, or among groups of readers. > The other users are readers of such productions. > > It doesn't seem quite right to try to isolate the "programming language" > part of this  or even think in the paradigm of programming. > > > David Park > djmpark@comcast.net > http://home.comcast.net/~djmpark/index.html > > > > From: danl@wolfram.com [mailto:danl@wolfram.com] > > > Readers of comp.softsys.math.mathematica (MathGroup) might be interested in > the latest blog from Stephen Wolfram. > > http://blog.stephenwolfram.com/2013/02/whatshouldwecallthelanguageofm > athematica/ > > It raises the question of what to call the programming language of > Mathematica. I will quote from near the end: > > "What should the name be? I'm hoping to get feedback on the ideas I've > discussed here, as well as to get new suggestions." > > The Comments section has reached 66 as of the time of my writing this note. > And the blog is but a few hours old. Suggestions are solicited. > > Daniel Lichtblau > Wolfram Research > >



