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Re: Mathematica and Lisp
Posted:
Jan 18, 2013 12:50 AM


On Jan 17, 13, at 12:14 PM, Richard Fateman wrote:
> On 1/15/2013 10:39 PM, Murray Eisenberg wrote: >> On Jan 14, 2013, at 11:31 PM, David Bailey <dave@removedbailey.co.uk.math.umass.edu> wrote: >> >> >> >> It all depends on just what you want somebody to accomplish when learning his/her first programming language. > > There are several issues here. > For a starter, 4year colleges generally do not offer credit for "a > course to teach you to program in language X" in a department of > computer science. > There may be such courses in physics, statistics, etc departments, > but this should be classified as a utility course, akin to "how to use > the microwave oven in the lunchroom".
Was this analogy meant to be pejorative?
I teach such a course and receive current and a posteriori feedback on the benefits of learning to rapidly construct a model, compute it, and visualize it. Equally important, the students learn math and a means to acquire more math on their ownand quickly. I teach fundamental concepts of my discipline by using novice programming, numerical analysis, symbolic algebra: voila, canonical discipline knowledge and transferable skills in one course.
The "microwave usage" analogy diminishes the importance of an indispensable tool to an applied scientist or engineer.
I have physical science colleagues who consider programing and linear algebra to be superfluous because they use spreadsheet tools. I consider their myopic view marginally more perverse than (paraphrasing) `classifying computer language tools as microwave ovens for those who don't build microwaves or understand their operating principles'.



