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Frequently Asked Questions

WReach? Is that connected to WRI somehow?

The "WR" in my name has nothing to do with the company that develops Mathematica. It is just a coincidence.

Why do you start all your global variable names with $?

I use dollar signs for ad hoc global variables because I have been bitten too many times by accidentally assigning an own-value to a symbol that I happen to use, for example, in a symbolic equation. So I am in the habit of writing $x instead of x. I stick to that convention even for longer symbols like $initialUrl. Just like the regular symbol convention, Mathematica's predefined global symbols all start with a capital letter after the $. My ad hoc symbols always start with a lower case letter, so there is no conflict.

Why do you put semicolons and commas at the beginning of the line instead of at the end like a normal person?

I don't think of it that way. Rather, I switch from horizontal to vertical layout when a single expression is too long to fit on one line. This has the interesting side-effect of making the important delimiters stand out and line up. I first ran into this practice in the SQL community. SQL "programs" have the unpleasant property that they must be written as a single statement -- even if that statement is a hundred lines long (or more!). Sometimes Mathematica expressions share that property.


Apr
13
comment Creating centered inline cell in text cell
Oops, I somehow missed the comments to this effect under the question. I'm afraid I am not aware of a good resource for this. Judging from the source that ships with Mathematica, it would seem that WRI frequently writes box language directly to obtain finicky formatting -- bypassing not only the UI but also functions like Grid, etc.
Apr
13
answered Creating centered inline cell in text cell
Apr
13
comment Understanding Transpose
Transpose[$m, {3, 2, 1}] === Flatten[$m, {{3}, {2}, {1}}], so you might find this discussion of Flatten useful.
Apr
13
comment Programming paradigm change
@Mr.Wizard I do indeed love your new method. I rest my case comparing writing Mathematica to writing poetry.
Apr
13
comment Programming paradigm change
@rasher Naaahhh, wait for the movie. We are hoping to get Steven Seagal to play Java, and Christopher Lloyd for Mathematica. I'm not too sure about the love triangle added to the shooting script involving Julia (Amanda Seyfried), but the climactic battle royale ought to make up for it... if we can secure the production funding for the CGI.
Apr
13
awarded  Nice Answer
Apr
12
revised How can I recover a graph from a graphical output in a notebook after resetting the kernel?
added heuristic steps to recover the edges from a graphic
Apr
12
revised How can I recover a graph from a graphical output in a notebook after resetting the kernel?
added the update
Apr
12
answered How can I recover a graph from a graphical output in a notebook after resetting the kernel?
Apr
12
comment Programming paradigm change
@Mr.Wizard Of that, there is no doubt. I bow to the king.
Apr
12
revised Programming paradigm change
added a link to Leonid's book
Apr
12
answered Programming paradigm change
Apr
12
answered Dynamically Updating Function
Apr
12
answered What kind of check does DirectoryQ exactly perform?
Apr
11
comment Can TreeForm be displayed “sideways”?
I've simplified the code used to recover the TreePlot.
Apr
11
revised Can TreeForm be displayed “sideways”?
simplified the code used to recover the TreePlot
Apr
11
revised RLink Java(TM) platform has stop working
typo and formatting
Apr
11
answered RLink Java(TM) platform has stop working
Apr
10
awarded  Good Answer
Apr
10
awarded  Organizer