Paul Zimmerman pointed out to me that there's a feature of the legacy
Sage Notebook, automatic_names() , which turns on automatic
creation of symbolic variables and functions when they are not already
defined. For example, by default if you enter:
sage: x + y + z
NameError: name 'y' is not defined
('y', in this case, because 'x' is pre-defined as a special case).
With automatic_names(True) it inserts a shim into the Sage syntax
pre-processor that automatically creates variables from names not
already found in globals().
I see no reason this feature needs to be confined to the legacy
Notebook, as opposed to being in Sage proper. Then that feature would
be usable at the command-line, as well as in the Jupyter Notebook.
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