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Comment: Python is the better programming language (Score 1) 143

The arguments in favor of R boil down to this: R is more widely used by statisticians and has a much larger library of statistical packages. But R is not a very good programming language, is difficult to learn, and is not well suited to integrate with or be used for more general purpose programming tasks.

Python, on the other hand, has a vast library of packages but does not yet have nearly as many packages specialized for the statistical computing domain. The arguments in favor of Python are, in essence, that it's very easy to learn and easy to use and easy to integrate with other general purpose programming tasks. Python is also gaining a lot of momentum in the scientific computing community. For many statistical analysis applications (most?), the packages that do exist for Python are more than adequate. Some folks even suggest that R's lead over Python is evaporating fast.

Comment: How in the hell did this pass IRB? (Score 5, Informative) 160

by RobertJ1729 (#47375805) Attached to: Facebook Fallout, Facts and Frenzy
The scientists represented to the IRB that the dataset was preexisting, and so the IRB passed on the review. It's not clear that the dataset was preexisting, though, since the study seems to indicate that the scientists were involved in the design of the experiment from the beginning. What's more, the paper itself claims to have obtained informed consent when clear there was none.

Comment: Nice language for mathematics (Score 1) 216

by RobertJ1729 (#46368221) Attached to: Wolfram Language Demo Impresses
"Wolfram Language" is not new. Wolfram is just trying to decouple Mathematica's programming language from the Mathematica products, which only makes sense considering the direction of the company. Mathematica users have been using this language (minus the Wolfram Alpha feature) for years.

As a domain-specific language, it's really great. The functional programming features have a great syntax (IMHO) for doing math stuff. As a general purpose language, it's awful. The library is large and easy to use, and the documentation is a pleasure to read. It's also as proprietary as it gets. Wolfram Research tries to ease the pain of that constricting noose with the CDF player and the ability to embed certain kinds of Mathematica--er, I mean, Wolfram Language code into web pages. In practice, however, everyone you want to share your code with is going to need to buy a Wolfram Research product or work at an institution that has a site license.

Comment: Re:scilab is better but french. (Score 1) 166

by RobertJ1729 (#45808901) Attached to: GNU Octave Gets a GUI

Sagemath is not just freeware but actual open source, and it is not even that, it's just a repackaging of existing software packages IIRC.

This is very incorrect. Sage's website accurately describes it: "It combines the power of many existing open-source packages into a common Python-based interface. Mission: Creating a viable free open source alternative to Magma, Maple, Mathematica and Matlab."

Comment: A lot of misunderstanding in this thread. (Score 5, Interesting) 84

by RobertJ1729 (#45313303) Attached to: A MathML Progress Report: More Light Than Shadow
There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding in this thread about what MathML is for. What we are wanting, what we need, is for modern browsers to support the rendering of mathematics. To even get off the ground, we need a markup language for the browser to interpret. Since browsers already know how to speak XML, it only makes sense for the markup to be some flavor of XML. Those who are suggesting LaTeX instead are really missing the point here. We aren't solve the problem of a lack of human writable markup. That problem has been solved many times over. The problem we are trying to solve is rendering mathematics in the browser. Period. THAT is what we need MathML support for.

Again, the problem is NOT a problem of AUTHORSHIP. Authorship is easy. It's a problem of DISPLAY. And it is a serious and important problem to be solved. The web was invented to share scientific information. Education on the web is huge--and growing. Academic publishers, mathematical software, and software shims that display math in a browser all use MathML extensively. It's a ubiquitous technology precisely because it fills a need in the industry, and it fills it well. What's more, MathML is important for an accessible web.

PDF is clearly not good enough for digital consumption. PDF is great for print but totally sucks for screens. MathJax is amazing (as are the people behind it), but it is a huge, complicated, and inefficient solution to the problem of math in the browser. The author of the linked article in the submission works on MathJax professionally and is advocating MathML support in the browser. That should tell you something. (In fact, MathJax itself uses MathML both internally and as an input/output format.)

Comment: Re:MathML is horrible (Score 1) 84

by RobertJ1729 (#45313103) Attached to: A MathML Progress Report: More Light Than Shadow
That's because you don't know what it's for. MathML is what you get when you try to do translate the expressiveness of LaTeX into the domain of HTML/XML. You should ask yourself why it is that the very same people who work on a tool that you this is good, namely LaTeX, are the people who developed MathML, which you think is bad. If you are writing MathML by hand, you are doing it wrong.

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