I'm going to get a CAS for next semester, since I'll be taking Differential Equations as well as a Matrices course. The price for the student version of each is about the same, so which one do you think I should get? I've tried Mathematica, and it's not bad, but after checking out the demos on the Maplesoft web site, I was very impressed with Maple. I am a second-year math major, so I'll (hopefully) be using whichever software I buy for more than these two classes.
I've tried both. In fact, I've tried Mathematica 5.2, and Maple 10. Those exact versions. My only opinion is that I found the coding on Maple to be a hell of a lot easier than Mathematica. That's key. Think about it for a second. Maple works like Microsoft Word practically. Simply type in... int(x^2,x); And, push enter and then it integrates for you. The coding is practically natural... integrate x^2 with respect to x. For Mathematica, I don't even remember. I'm sure it's not that different, but I do remember annoying square brackets for everything, like as if it would be like... [int][x^2,[x]] Whatever it was, something was annoying about it. Otherwise, they both can probably solve just about anything you throw at it, which can be done numerically. Not sure which is more powerful, but I would have to guess Maple is because I remember having Maple 8 and Mathematica 5.2 on my computer, where Maple 8 was faster. Mathematica took like an extra second or two. Also, if you're thing had an error, Mathematica seemed like it took much longer to detect than Maple would have.
Thanks for the information. I agree that the square brackets on Mathematica are pretty annoying, as well as the built-in functions requiring capitalization. I'll probably go with Maple then, but if anybody has any more opinions, feel free to offer them.
What's your major? Why do you want a CAS? I usually just use my ti-89 for problems or lookup things in Schaum's handbook of formula's. Maple is a lot easier to use than Mathematica from the little I've used it, but that's because Mathematica isn't "natural" out of the box. It has a learning curve. I've heard if you learn it however that it is very powerful. My math professors always seemed to prefer Mathematica. My engineering professors prefer Matlab.
Mathematica is indeed more powerful than Maple, but Maple is easier to use. The truth is that nothing you're going to do in an undergraduate curriculum -- or even in the first couple of years of grad school -- will present even the slightest challenge to either program. - Warren
I'm a math major, as I said in my original post. I was thinking of using the CAS for 3d graphing as well solving/simplifying equations, etc, maybe a little bit of programming, and who knows what else. I kind of figured that I wouldn't challenge either program in any way. That's a good thing, I guess. I've gotten an email from a professor at NIU (Northern Illinois), and he said the following: "Your differential equations class may well be the last one in which you use any technology more complicated than a $10 calculator, and the matrix theory class may be the last one using anything more than a pencil." I know I'll be taking mostly analysis classes after these two, but not all my classes will be theoretical math, will they? Now I'm wondering if I should just get the 1-year version of Mathematica for 30 bucks, even if it is a little annoying to use.
I'd venture that before you purchase any commercial CAS, you look into the free, open-source Mathematica-like CAS called Maxima, or the free, open-source MATLAB look-alike called Octave. Maxima can almost certainly handle anything you'd like to do -- its only real drawback is that it's a little more difficult to use, since it lacks pretty-print and other user interface features. - Warren
There are fontends for maxima like xmaxima and wxmaxima. The proprietary CAS systems have an advantage in plotting. I believe maxima (or at least xmaxima) relies on gnuplot for plotting. gnuplot is great, I've used it a lot on the job for interpreting data, but I never was able to figure out how to do space curves with it, for example.
The front-ends are actually pretty hard to configure and use, and I'm not sure if you could get any of them to run on a Windows machine (which might be part of the criteria here). - Warren
I've tried Maxima, and it was ok, but I like being able to things like evaluating integrals by "drawing" them on the screen, something that Maxima/wxMaxima can't do. Also, Maxima doesn't run (as far as I know) on Macs, and I use an iBook as my primary computer. I also had some trouble with plotting 3d graphs using Maxima.