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Predrag to Damon Lamb: Specifics?
Thanks! Whenever you can, please be specific, I need to know what is unclear in a particular in order to be able to improve it.
— Predrag Cvitanovic 2009-01-16
Damon Lamb to Predrag: Some general thoughts
Jargon: As some chapters make fairly heavy use of jargon, some of which is used in other fields but with different definitions or assumptions, it may be useful to have an appendix of terms and their specific definitions as used in this book.
More explicit algorithms: Perhaps as an addendum or an instructor resource, it would have been of great utility to have more explicit algorithms in several instances. Newton-Rhapson springs to mind, as many of us had problems with the particulars of the implementation - although, to be fair, this may have been problems on our end with fully understanding the nuances of the problem.
Derivations/Proofs of the more advanced formulae: While the first half (or so) of the course time, we covered material which, for me, followed from what I had seen in the past. The leap to the trace formulation, as well as some of the other more significant results we were presented with later in the course, were (and, to some extent, still are) far less clear. While I can say 'I trust that these are right', and apply them, I cannot derive them at will. This, for me, impedes my ability to apply them. I understand and appreciate the motivation to keep the proofs and mathematical minutae to a minimum, I strongly feel that they could greatly expand the utility and effectiveness of the book. Perhaps, as a compromise with efficiency and elegance in the main text, they could be relegated to appendices. Very, very useful appendices :)
Symbol uniformity: Several times my classmates and I found that the symbols used in a formula were unclear or inexact. This likely led to some of the aforementioned confusion or difficulty. It would be very helpful to have a single uniform symbolic set (especially if such a set of symbols was clearly defined prior to use, as well as gathered in yet another appendix of symbols). For me, having variables defined ahead of time is natural and expected.
All of these would broaden the impact of this book. I, for one, would be far more inclined to buy it if I could pick it up, quickly find the topic I wanted to review, and not need to re-read the entire book up to that point to understand the pages which apply. By pushing some of the additional material to an appendix, while slightly refining the primary presentation, I believe a balance can be struck which enables retention of the style of the book while rendering it more accessible and useful as a reference.
— Damon Lamb 2009-01-15