Important to learn Maple?

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I am a petroleum engineering major taking a Calculus III course this fall online. Either the final exam can be worth 40% or it can be worth 30%, but that other 10% would go toward online hw assignments completed with Maple. I do not have Maple and am not on a university campus.

Would it be worth it to https://webstore.maplesoft.com/product.aspx?id=316"
Is it used often in engineering?

Also, the school I am transferring to seems to only rely on Matlab and Mathematica.

Thanks.
 
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  • #2
cgk
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It is definitely helpful to know how to use at least one computer algebra system well. Whether that should be Maple or Mathematica (probably the two most powerful general CAS programs) or something else is a question of taste and money (Mathematica is more expensive, but in my opinion also more elegant and more powerful). Knowing one of those inside out can save you immense amounts of time in solving real-world problems, because those things are really /VERY/ good at symbolic computations, and, basically, you almost never have to do such calculations by hand anymore. And you can do lots of calculations in seconds which you wouldn't even be able to do manually even given lot of time.

Of course, whether that is a necessary part of your engineering career depends on the concrete tasks you're doing. There are plenty of engineering tasks where you "only" apply some pre-made PDE-solvers.
 
  • #3
I'd personally hate to lose 10% towards a grade just because of a hesitation to spend $100 on a student version of software, or a reluctance to spend extra time on campus (which I did when completing an MS in engineering where a class required Matlab.

I've used all three (Maple, Mathematica, and Matlab -- and other programs), and I have a personal leaning towards Maple (out of the 3M's herementioned), but that may be just because I used it first (and fairly extensively for generating some theory-based graphs for my undergraduate thesis). I hear Mathematica is better than Maple, but it's also pricier, (though that now makes little difference since our university provides both free to students and faculty on-site)... and the syntax, etc. is pretty similar to Maple in fact so similar that I got too many frequent "typos" that prevented my Mathematica code from running well. Matlab I just used for the aforementioned engineering class (digital signal processing)... and it was definitely good for THAT (and preferred by the professor, whose research was in signal processing, digital and analog), but I just haven't used it since (probably due to the personal leaning towards Maple as a first "language"... even in raw programming, I'd lean towards good old previsual BASIC if I dould,due to my middle-school learning on a TRS/TRASH80).

In general, I'd also say learn a bit of as many as possible at this student stage, just so you can list them in some "skills" section of your CV/resume. And, like cgk says above, knowing even a bit of one can be useful (which is why even when you transfer, you'll be required to learn something).
 
  • #4
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I'd never used Maple until my ODE/Linear Algebra class. Now I use it at least once a week for tricky integrals and other equation solving problems for my physics class. So based solely on that, I'd give it a try. It's pretty easy to use as well. In my ODE class we had weekly maple assignments. Without ever using it prior to that class I got 100% on every assignment.


I've used all three (Maple, Mathematica, and Matlab -- and other programs), and I have a personal leaning towards Maple (out of the 3M's herementioned), but that may be just because I used it first (and fairly extensively for generating some theory-based graphs for my undergraduate thesis). I hear Mathematica is better than Maple, but it's also pricier, (though that now makes little difference since our university provides both free to students and faculty on-site)... and the syntax,

Sorry....this is offtopic, but I am thinking of buying Mathematica (hesitating because it's so ******expensive). I often use Wolframalpha.com for my integrals. This is because Maple will give me ridiculous results that take me 10+ minutes to decipher. However, I can put the same problem, in the same format, and get a beautiful output, simplified and ready to go. From your use is the actual Mathematica similar to Wolfram in the outputs, or just like Maple?
 
  • #5
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I come across a lot more people who use Mathematica, which makes me think there's something better about it. Maple has always seemed a lot more intuitive to me though. It's also nice to see everything displayed in mathematical symbols instead of in-line. Makes it easier to check over what you wrote.

I should point out that I'm not particularly skilled at either program.
 
  • #6
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I download Mathematica and I tell your right now it works SOOOOOOO MUCH better.
 
  • #7
cgk
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From your use is the actual Mathematica similar to Wolfram in the outputs, or just like Maple?

My impression is that Alpha uses the Mathematica kernel for its integrals and math in general (that woulod not be very surprising considering that both are from the same company). As far as I see, typing in some integral into Alpha and into Mathematica 8 produces identical results. I guess for really complicated stuff which takes a few minutes for computations, Alpha may give up earlier (you're burning their energy after all, while with Mathematica it's your own), but I have not actually tried it.
 
  • #8
fss
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Of the three Ms, Maple is probably the least popular. That doesn't mean it's not worth working with, but Mathematica and MATLAB are more ubiquitous overall.
 
  • #9
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I thought the commands in Mathematica is the same as Wolframalpha
 
  • #10
G01
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It is definitely a good idea to become familiar with at least one of them, if not all 3. I've used all three over the course of my (relatively short) career in physics.

I suggest learning Mathematica and MATLAB. Maple is the least prevalent of the three in my experience. Again, in my experience, MATLAB has the highest learning curve, but you can also do a lot of stuff with it, so there's a trade off..
 
  • #11
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I'm not a pro, so I'm not qualified to say which works better for pros, but I think Maple is better for students.

You can get a lot done with Maple after doing a ten-minute tutorial, and you can remember how to do stuff without constant practice. IMO Mathematica is MUCH less intuitive; every time I stop using it for even a couple weeks, I have to keep a manual open to relearn how to do everything.

Maple also has built-in student packages, which do complicated calculations step by step, so you can see how it's done. They even give hints for each step, so you can learn how to do it yourself.

Those are the big selling points for me. Obviously, neither would be very important to someone who uses Mathematica every day, and only cares about the results. I think Mathematica has a much larger user base, but that may be because it's been around longer, and wisely made it available to universities at a huge discount.
 
  • #12
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MATLAB is a numerical package. Maple and Mathematica are symbolic packages (although they are adding more numerical abilities all the time).

The two are very different approaches. Telling someone to learn MATLAB instead of Maple is like telling them to use a backhoe instead of a hang-glider. Yeah, they may both get you there, but it depends what job you need done.

For the OP, you could check if your instructor would accept the project done with wxMaxima instead. It is a close cousin to Maple/Mathematica, is FOSS (free), and the syntax is very similar.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxima_(software)

If you need a special package from Maple, or your instructor is clueless about other software, then you are stuck with what they want.
 
  • #13
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From your use is the actual Mathematica similar to Wolfram in the outputs, or just like Maple?

Wolfram Alpha is programmed with the Mathematica syntax in mind. If you were to enter, for instance: "Integral of x^2 from x equals 0 to 1" wolfram alpha could probably tell you the answer, however it might try and guess at what you want and give you something completely different. You can also type "Integrate[x^2,{x,0,1}]" and wolfram alpha would interpret that is mathematica syntax and give you a precise answer. Actually aside from speed and timeouts Wolfram alpha IS mathematica plus an extra interpreter if your mathematica syntax is faulty.
 
  • #14
bcrowell
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I agree with Sankaku's recommendation of Maxima. I use it, and I like it.

My experience with Mathematica was one of the most powerful motivators that got me more interested in open source. I bought a copy of Mathematica, and then when I upgraded the OS on my Mac, it stopped working. I called Wolfram to ask about how to get it working again, and their answer was that I needed to buy a new copy of Mathematica.

In general, low-quality or technical education centers on learning specific software. A high-quality or academic education is more about learning the concepts behind the software, and those concepts are independent of what software you use.
 
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  • #15
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Maple also has built-in student packages, which do complicated calculations step by step, so you can see how it's done. They even give hints for each step, so you can learn how to do it yourself.


It really has this? My professor showed us this once with Maple and it was awful. It just displayed the code of how it come to the answer - wasn't helpful at all. I'll use Wolframalpha just to see the steps on stuff I don't get. If Maple really does that it would be sweet.

Wolfram Alpha is programmed with the Mathematica syntax in mind. If you were to enter, for instance: "Integral of x^2 from x equals 0 to 1" wolfram alpha could probably tell you the answer, however it might try and guess at what you want and give you something completely different. You can also type "Integrate[x^2,{x,0,1}]" and wolfram alpha would interpret that is mathematica syntax and give you a precise answer. Actually aside from speed and timeouts Wolfram alpha IS mathematica plus an extra interpreter if your mathematica syntax is faulty.

Huh. I really like using wolframalpha sounds like mathematica is very similar. Maybe I'll take the plunge and purchase it.
 

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