January 03, 2007

Precedent for Executable Articles

I agree with Mark that executable articles would be a good idea, both as a check on the validity of the data and its analysis and as a means of improving comprehension. A version of this idea that might serve as a model was actually created by Stephen Wolfram back in the 1980s. Among his other accomplishments, Wolfram is the creator of Mathematica, a computer system for doing mathematics. One component is what in Mathematica is called a notebook. A notebook is a document in which equations are executable code and graphs and other images are generated from code that remains present in the document so that it may be modified and re-executed.

The reader of a Mathematica notebook can change equations or numerical constants, redraw plots to reflect the changes, or change the graphical properties of plots to suit himself. A notebook is also convenient for the author since it provides a way of embedding the math and images in notes explaining what she is thinking.

Posted by Bill Poser at January 3, 2007 09:03 PM