I've been improving/organizing tags since some time now, and encountered a few cases where I don't want to advance without any feedback from the community. Below I suggest some changes/merges that I find useful, please provide feedback. For sake of simplicity I won't create a new post for each suggestion, as the list is big. I've provided some explanation of my intentions at the end of this post.

As a matter of good practice I also would like to suggest the followings for tagging:

  1. Rather combine existing tags cleverly than introducing new ones.
  2. If you insist on introducing a new tag please add a wiki as well that helps to define the domain that the tag is intended to cover.
  3. Please do some research before inventing new tags to prevent parallel concepts to arise (like and ).

I've added each suggestion as a separate answer, and I encourage you to do so in the future to. This way we can canalize occasional retagging events to this thread.


Naturally such categorization processes as tagging involve a lot of subjectivity, so there are always tags that are important for a few people only, or tags that were introduced by different people for identical (or only slightly diverging) concepts, which results in more tags than necessary. I would strongly advice the combination of existing tags when posting a question instead of introducing new ones, as that would lead to a combinatorial explosion. A smaller lexicon of tags if combined leads to higher generality (i.e. can cover a larger domain) than a set of highly specialized tags (of course these are only the two extrema). At present we have a fair amount of tags that reasonably covers all the questions asked so far, and this amount is still maintainable.

Why not simply keep all tags? Why not have millions of tags? One thing is that a larger lexicon is less general (specific tags cover specific domains), therefore less useable by the community (specific tags would be used or understood possibly by very few people) and less maintainable (no one would be able to scan through a vast list of tags for e.g. relationships). It also could have detrimental effects, like supporting behavior that is unwanted (i.e. an existing tag might give the wrong impression that we support "gimme-teh-codez" type questions, see here).

  • Perhaps we should break each item into a separate answer for discussion? In any case, matrix was discussed here, and my initial thought is that persistance and clear are opposite concepts and deserve being separate tags. (There are some questions that have both tags, which is questionable.) Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 14:23
  • @BrettChampion per the original conversation on matrix, that was discussing it as a synonym for list. Here this would merge them under the general mathematical heading. Unless you have other insight as to why that shouldn't occur, I think this is superior. As the foremost (or nearly so) answerer in both, I've attempted to start the synonymization process, but due to the existence of matrices->matrix, it won't let me. So, mod intervention seems to be required.
    – rcollyer
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 14:27
  • Added synonym of vector->linear-algebra. Now it just needs votes.
    – rcollyer
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 14:31
  • 1
    I don't think 'matrix' implies 'linear-algebra'. It could just as well apply to image processing, visualization, data processing, graph theory, multi-variate statistics, ... Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 15:17
  • The fact that matrix has been used 40-some times suggests to me that it's a useful concept. And only five of the first 15 I looked at are also linear-algebra (although at least a few of them probably could/should be.) Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 15:20
  • @Brett: see my answer under the Matrix answer below. Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 16:19
  • For those looking for that hard-to-find link to tag-synonyms voting and suggesting: it's here. Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 20:56
  • 3
    I'd just like to say thank you very much for taking on this job. Looking at the list of tags, a lot of organization and consolidation is obviously necessary, but unfortunately I have no time for it at the moment and it's hardly something everyone will relish. Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 3:24

8 Answers 8


Tagging (meta)

3x → 2x → 8x → 3x → 23x

See discussion here. They should be merged into one, as I don't see any justification for the existence of 5 (or even 2) different tags about the not-too-mainstream matter of tagging.


Decision: It seems like this has the most support, so I suggest someone with high enouh score initiates the synonyms for .



7x → 21x

I'm not sure whether is a useful tag at all: its questions are either belong to manipulation or downright about . The latter is obviously about interactivity. In any case, the tag can be added to the question as it is not just about dynamic updating but also about interactivity.

  • GUIs aren't the only sort of user interface possible with Mathematica, so maybe merge these two as user-interfaces? "Interactive" in the abstract could also apply to on-line interaction with hardware, network-based services, or other software, so I prefer retagging where appropriate rather than synonymizing this. Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 3:47


7x → 41x → 36x

According to my understanding, is about anything that is list-related (i.e. multidimensional/ragged lists as well). A matrix is a 2D rectangular arrays of numbers or symbols, for which linear algebra is applicable. However, linear algebra is also applicable to vectors (1D lists) and tensors (lists of list of even higher dimensionality). If we really want to use all , , , tags then we need more clear boundaries to decide when to use which tag. Also, as Brett has stated, matrices can also be used in other fields than linear algebra, e.g. in image processing.

  • 1
    @BrettChampion: I agree that matrix is useful, I don't want to delete it. But your answer suggests that each image-processing questions should be tagged as matrix too, which seems superfluous. My point is that if we distinguish matrix from e.g. image-processing (which distinction is pretty obvious and present in the wikis) then we should do the same when it comes to matrix vs. linear-algebra. But at present, the wikis do not reflect this divergence (quite the opposite). Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 16:20
  • 1
    Strongly agree. I think linear-algebra is a much better choice than list/pseudoscalar/vector/matrix/tensor etc. when the question really concerns linear-algebraic concepts and operations. Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 3:53


6x → 53x

Of the 6 questions using , 5 are also using , so I belive this tag is completely redundant.


Garbage collection

5x, 6x → garbage-collection or symbol-management

The (nonexistent) latter two are more descriptive, and naturally incorporates both existing tags. Since the number of questions is still low, I don't think we need two tags for the concept. Therefore I would suggest to merge and , and all the others should be added as synonyms. Though it is true that these are semantically opposite, but they refer to the same set of functions (Clear, Remove, etc.), as both tags belong to symbol-management.

  • 1
    In my book persistence and garbage collection are only very remotely related. I interpret persistence as discussing variables/symbols whose values/definitions survive between sessions like in DynamicModule or SaveDefinitions. There may be other definitions around though. Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 20:37
  • @Sjoerd: Oh, I see, that indeed makes sense. Though in this case I would say persistence relates to scoping. Would you care to improve the wiki to make the distinction more clear? Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 21:34
  • I am hoping someone with more CS background than me jumps in to set this straight. I don't feel too qualified in this area. I presume persistence may also be used to describe 'static' variables in some languages. Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 21:38
  • I prefer symbol-management, although it is perhaps a bit verbose. However, it has the advantage of referring equally well to the Temporary attribute, creating new symbols using Unique or Module, and the sometimes-unexpected garbage collection behaviour that can result from the latter. I do think though that "persistence" is a related but different concept, so I wouldn't be in favor of abolishing that tag just yet. Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 3:27

Notebook windows

5x → 50x

It was mostly me who asked questions with , but now I inclined to merge it with , as a dialog window is nothing more than a specific notebook window. Unfortunately, I don't have a high enough score to do the synonymification.


Decision: Keep both. Improved tag wikis accordingly to clearly distinguish cases.

  • notebooks is IMHO a much too general container concept for specific interface elements such as dialog-windows. Though technically dialog-windows may be notebooks, nobody (again, IMHO) would directly think of using the latter to tag the former. Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 20:41
  • @Sjoerd: While I agree with you on one hand (that was my intention when first introduced dialog-window), I now see that practically no one else used that tag but me, so I took it as a hint that it might not be that useful at all. Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 21:36
  • 1
    While all dialog windows are also notebooks, I'd keep the two separate, because when someone says "dialog window", I immediately know what exactly they're talking about and a casual user will probably not even realize that it is a notebook. I don't think we need to make everything very general. If that's the case, we could just have a single expressions tag and be done with it ;)
    – rm -rf Mod
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 22:53
  • @R.M: Yes, I am now convinced that dialog-window has the right to live, in light of this question raised recently. Added a wiki for the tag. Commented Jun 30, 2012 at 10:11


79x → 45x

Though has more questions and it has a good description (while lacks the latter), I still would use the less vague tag as it can be combined with e.g. the , or tags if needed. See discussions here and here.


While there is some negative feeling towards both tags being too vague, votes clearly show that merging/eliminating is not welcome. The wikis differentiate between the tags by referring to built-in () and user-created () functions. Sjoerd suggested in a comment below renaming the former one to , which I second here. Opinions are welcome.

  • 2
    The tag-wiki's imply a clear difference between the two. The first dealing with built-in functions, the other with user defined functions. I'm not sure merging would be a good idea. Perhaps the difference should actually be enhanced by renaming functions to builtin-functions? Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 20:48
  • I don't like either of these tags as they are both IMO too broad and vague, and the latter really refers to constructing rewrite rules rather than "functions" per se. However, they are widely used, people pretty much know what they mean, and the tag wikis do make a distinction, so I'm not currently in favor of eliminating either of them. Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 3:40


20x → 12x, also synonyms and

It seems like these two things evolved parallel for some time. I can hardly see any difference in the coverage, though I understand that simplification is the more intuitive word to describe the more symbolic field of algebraic manipulation.

  • Algebraic manipulation is a super set of operations that also includes simplification. They are not the same. Algebraic manipulation may even involve the opposite of simplification. Think of Expand for instance. Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 20:45
  • @Sjoerd: Again, then, we need someone who can make a clear delineation of the two wikis, because their overlapping does not facilitate proper usage at all. Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 21:37
  • I believe that the current wiki's sufficiently describe the difference as mentioned in my comment above. The algebraic-manipulation wiki "The art of manipulating an algebraic expression into the form you want." is a bit frivolous and not totally correct either. The Simplifying wiki "Questions on manipulating complicated expressions and making them look simpler using Simplify, FullSimplify and Reduce." looks OK to me. Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 21:46
  • 1
    Not in favor of merging, but simplifying-expressions could perhaps be better called simplification as you suggest. I think the word "expression" in a Mathematica context is too general: contrast Simplify with Experimental`OptimizeExpression, for example. Commented Jun 27, 2012 at 3:34

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .