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Applied Numerical Methods

  1. Nov 30, 2012 #1
    So I'm taking an applied numerical methods course this year, and we are not putting any emphasis on Matlab. Well, we do use it on homeworks and assignments, but he does not teach us more than the very basics (for, while loops, if iterations). The weird thing is that all the math we learn in the class can be done on Matlab using these very basic operations.

    I know that there is a time limit in which all of this material can be taught, but what I'm wondering is: will this lack of competence in Matlab effect me in any way further down the road (whether it be in industry or research)? Why isn't Matlab taught extensively, since it is what makes numerical methods possible, for lack of a better word?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 30, 2012 #2


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    Matlab is terrible you should be glad not to be exposed to it. I have heard of classes using Matlab without warning students. That should be illegal. Minor differences in syntax are unimportant to learning ideas. While snapping a rubber band repeatedly on your nose is more productive and less painful, no one is preventing you from using Matlab on the side.
  4. Nov 30, 2012 #3


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    I never used matlab (well I did once...)and I suspect that this numerical method class is more focus on teaching you the ideas behind numerical tehcniques than how to do it via a program. Besides programs like matlab, mathematica, maple, etc, can all be learned with practice and should be learned if you feel you'll need them, but on your own time.
  5. Nov 30, 2012 #4


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    Good for him. Those are all the logical constructons that you actually need, to write programs in any language. The only other "must know" thing about practical computer programming is recursion IMO, but numerical methods and Matlab don't provide much motivation for learning about that.

    It's much better to learn and practise the basics of "how to program" thoroughly, than to fill your head with half-remembered and half-understood facts about all the special purpose commands and functions in one particular language. Learn the basics properly, and you will be able to get productive in ANY programming language in a couple of days, as and when you need to learn it.
  6. Dec 1, 2012 #5


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    Also note that lots of numerics is done outside of Matlab, and knowing the basics might be more useful in the long run. For example, for a huge percentage of problems, python with scipy/numpy is a viable and easily available alternative. Also most of the hardcore number crunching in science is done with home-made or special purpose programs (because general programs do not offer the required techniques, or offer them at an insufficent level of sophistication).
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