Posted by ubpdqn on December 16, 2010
The unknown blogger is a novice and unsophisticated Mathematica user. There are no efficient codes, or deep insughts from the musings of the blogger.
The software does allow non-experts to do things they can conceive, manipulate their own data or public data sets to provide visualizations and analyses that increase understanding. There is always a risk in replacing critical thinking with software. This is not unique to Mathematica. It applies to MatLab, Maple, SPSS, SAS, etc.
Mathematica, however, from the blogger’s perspective has been an instrument to improve understanding, to explore the limits of information, to understand the importance of convergence in finite precision computation. Although the user is the beneficiary of complex algorithms beyond their scope or hope of understanding, the consistency and validity is still the responsibility of the user.
The most sophisticated, advanced and well educated need to look under the hood, to tinker to refine, to criticize (with view to improvement).
The child-like users like the blogger have more utilitarian aims. This is not to endorse blind faith in the computations produced by a particular software package. Rather, it is to have a clear well defined problem in mind, devise a number of strategies and have a tool that allows the user to translate these ideas into a computable framework and provide results. The results can be probed, compared with reality, with expectations and parameters varied to assess robustness or just to identify sensitivity to assumptions.
Mathematica provides such a tool for the unknown blogger. It may not be the best tool (as assessed by others, particularly those with greater education, wisdom or training) . It is not the only tool and the blogger uses other tools for other purposes. However, for the blogger it is a great tool.
The unknown blogger, therefore, reinforces the view that it is the responsibility of the user of the specialised software to go through this iterative (learning) process. The aim is understanding not quick answers, or pretty visualizations no matter how pleasing these are.
At its basest level, below these “high minded” comments, using Mathematica is fun. This fun has only been amplified in the latest version.
This confession is motivated by the observation of site visits related to Mathematica. The blogger has learned a lot from looking at the code from a number of resources as well as the detailed documentation that Wolfram Research provides.