Date: May 19, 2013 5:46 AM
Author: Richard Fateman
Subject: Re: Work on Basic Mathematica Stephen!
Rising to the bait..

On 5/17/13 11:38 PM, Andrzej Kozlowski wrote:

> I mention this fact in order to make a point that nobody has been

> making: these sort of things are important for many Mathematical users,

> in fact infinitely more so that the kind basic language issues that

> Richard Fateman has been carping about for over 20 years. These kind of

> functionality is why many people use Mathematica. I therefore absolutely

> disagree with the statement: "I am very happy with the functions

> available in Mathematica 8".

Clearly one can continue to add libraries to Mathematica. Each time

some computational functionality is added 'built in' it replaces a

functionality (or potential functionality) that could be implemented

in the Mathematica language, and may make someone somewhere happy.

Many? I wonder how many people doing statistics are just waiting

for extra features to be added to Mathematica (vs. using systems

that already provide such features, and have done so for many years)..

Possibly some other people will be inconvenienced by cost, size,

complexity, etc. One hopes, not by much, if the design of features

is properly orthogonal to other features. I do not object to

the goal that a computer algebra system should generally be

extensible and extended to cover as much of math as can be

done "nicely". There are some designs that are especially

uncomfortable -- for example imagine the result of merging pre-existing

systems each of which has a different notion of "integer".

My concern has been and continues to be based on the observation

that Mathematica fails to fulfill reasonable expectations on

simple things, for example arithmetic and comparison of floating

point numbers. Therefore

a package built on this foundation of sand may fail in mysterious

(to typical users) ways. A package built by savvy programmers

internal to WRI may fail less frequently than one built for

similar purposes by an "outsider".

RJF