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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.


Feb
28
answered How to see which arguments are passed into a function
Feb
28
comment Replacing parts of a held expression with held parts of another expression
@LeonidShifrin I guess that all roads in Mathematica lead to metaprogramming :)
Feb
28
answered Replacing parts of a held expression with held parts of another expression
Feb
20
answered Implementing a Beeswarm plot in Mathematica
Feb
18
answered Working with Java hashmaps from Mathematica
Feb
12
awarded  Nice Answer
Feb
12
revised refer to result of cell above current cell?
added info about PreviousCell[] and NextCell[]
Feb
5
answered refer to result of cell above current cell?
Jan
18
awarded  Yearling
Jan
11
comment Formatting Excel Borders with .Net
@BlueMac Sorry, I have no insight on that behaviour. I just now tried to assign multiple formulas from an array using VBA directly inside Excel (2007, in my case). It didn't work either, although it failed in a slightly different way from when I performed the operation through COM from Mathematica. Perhaps formula array assignment is broken in Excel?
Dec
27
revised How to allow ContinuousAction on something that is not all
added the section on DynamicWrapper
Dec
27
answered How to allow ContinuousAction on something that is not all
Dec
22
awarded  Enlightened
Dec
22
awarded  Enlightened
Dec
22
awarded  Nice Answer
Dec
21
comment Formatting Excel Borders with .Net
See the new "Formulas" section.
Dec
21
revised Formatting Excel Borders with .Net
added the "Formulas" section
Dec
20
awarded  Talkative
Dec
17
awarded  Nice Answer
Dec
16
answered Formatting Excel Borders with .Net