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From: John Maddock (john_at_[hidden])
Date: 2007-02-11 05:13:51

Yuriy Koblents-Mishke wrote:
> For example, in my seventeen years of experience with economic
> modeling, we worked every day with normal, log-normal, Poisson,
> Pareto, and many other distributions, but I cannot remember a singe
> case when a single researcher used spherical harmonics or elliptic
> integrals. Our economists, probably, never hear these words, and most
> likely even mathematicians all but completely forgot them. I can
> imagine easily my former colleagues intimidated by special functions
> when browsing documentation, and putting aside the library completely.
> A typical user of special functions hardly will be intimidated by
> statistical distributions, but more often than not he will regard this
> part of manual as a mildly distracting noise.
> Of course, gamma is gamma and beta is beta, but this message is about
> manual, not about codes.

Nod, understood.

For many users you are completely correct of course, though for scientific
programmers the distinction is less clear cut IMO.

It might be possible to split the manual into two separate chapters (not
sure about that though, might be a lot of work getting the links sorted
out), but at the very least if the library is accepted we can include a
direct link from the library index to the distribution-only TOC (see
for example).

There will always be a lot of cross-linking between the two - I don't
believe it would be sensible to try and duplicate accuracy data in both
places for example - the docs would quickly become impossible to maintain.
There will also be a lot of curious folks who want to know how the
distributions and the underlying special functions are implemented - either
because they're just curious - or because they need to do a quality-audit on
the code before recommending it to their workplace. On the other hand maybe
I'm over-estimating how many folks fall into that category, just 'cos those
are the kinds of people that get in touch.... hmmm, who knows.

> And, by the way, Pareto is not mentioned in the manual.

That's one we haven't implemented yet, we've tried to implement a core set
of distributions that were common to the majority of other statistics
packages. We're slowly getting requests for more as various people find
that their favorite isn't present. So basically, please be patient, but
don't be shy in lobbying for for anything we've missed - and of course
submissions are always welcome :-)


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