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RE: st: Stata 9: first impressions?

From   "Nick Cox" <[email protected]>
To   <[email protected]>
Subject   RE: st: Stata 9: first impressions?
Date   Thu, 5 May 2005 19:46:51 +0100

First, let's make sure that Mata is correctly 
so named and stamp out "MATA" before it 
spreads like a Statalist Transmitted Disease. 

Stata started out in life as STATA 
but quickly became Stata, but some users are 
still 19 years out of date. The principle is 
simply that Stata and Mata are invented words, 
not acronyms, and so are not capitalised 
throughout. The fact is also that these
are the names given by StataCorp. 

On the main point about Mata, I think the 
analogue is much more nearly C than C++ in 
terms of size, complexity and philosophy. 

But whatever the comparison, Mata is 
absolutely and completely optional for 
Stata users. You need never type 
a single line of Mata, or write a
single Mata program. If it doesn't appeal, 
it looks too difficult, or you haven't 
the time, that's your choice, and you 
can still find Stata very useful, just 
as before. 

The situation is just like that with any other 
programming sub-language of Stata. 
Perhaps 100 people write Stata programs 
seriously and also put them in the 
public domain; no doubt rather more people 
write Stata programs, often but not always 
more specific, and keep quiet about it. 
Many more users never write programs at 
all, but they still in _all_ cases 
gain from the programmability of Stata. 
Even if you never use user-written Stata 
programs, you can't use Stata seriously 
without making heavy use of Stata programs. 

Mata will be the same. You needn't use
it directly and deliberately to benefit from it. 
The leverage it gives to Stata's developers
and to user-programmers will benefit all. 

[email protected] 

Ricardo Ovaldia
> 2. MATA looks like a great addition, but requires a
> whole new level of programming sophistication beyond
> ado file programming. It requires at skill level
> comparable to that require for C++ programming.   This
> in my opinion is a step back, in the sense that
> programming levels try to become more real language
> like and less like machine language. Mata goes in the
> opposite direction making code programming more
> machine-like. For us not accustomed to program in C,
> programming in Mata, beyond a few simple lines of
> code, will definitely be a challenge and maybe
> frustrating and discouraging.  
> This is only my first impression and I may change my
> mind once I begin learning Mata.

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