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Math software questions .

  1. Mar 24, 2005 #1
    Math software questions.....

    I was just wondering what practical applications using programs like Maple, Matlab and Mathcad have? I want to learn one (maybe all) of these programs, but I'm not exactly sure what they do...how are they helpful in doing research? Why are they so valuable? Any input is good, since I'm new to the math software, so just chuck it out there....
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 24, 2005 #2


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    In doing research complex tasks can be performed far more quickly, with less errors, and are overall possible within a reasonable timespan ... I'd suggest you visit the official websites, they've a number of "case studies" and examples on practical applications ... unless you've some specific in mind (I'm finding it difficult to convert to words that I spend pretty much 24/7 with these and related software, doing pretty much all tasks with them :biggrin: ) ?.
  4. Mar 24, 2005 #3


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    In depends on what you generally want. If you're wishing to become an engineer, you'll probably run across Matlab more times that you'd care to. If you're still in school, Maple seems to be the choice of most students. There's also Mathematica, which is much more complex than Maple, that researchers tend to use for various fields.

    I'll give you a run-down of the features of each. Matlab has excellent matrix operation algorithms as well as support for interfacing with scientific devices. Matlab does have a CAS, however, it does not have any sort of "pretty-print" support that I'm aware of, at least. Generally, Matlab is used for ODE solving and calculations involving matrices.

    Maple, in my opinion, has the most consistent syntax out of all the options that I've listed here. It's fairly easy and productive to use. You'll be able to right click on output that Maple may give for something, and you'll be able to perform an operation on it. Say, you define a function, and you'd like to plot it or differentiate it with respect to some variable. All of this is available under the menu.

    Mathematica, tended for a more advanced audience, has a much more complex CAS than Maple has. Mathematica is capable of performing Calculus (integration, differentiation, limits, etc.) on a wider range of functions than Maple can do. Mathematica has a slightly more inconsistent syntax. I feel bad for anyone that has to plot vector fields with it (not fun!). Mathematica's plotting capabilities aren't as great as Maple's or Matlab's, either.

    Mathematica and Matlab, both, feature an extensive programming language, also - making it very efficient at doing long, drawn-out, calculations. Maple has it's own language, as well; however, I don't consider it as feature-full as Mathematica or Matlab, though.

    Matlab out of all of these has the best plotting featres. Maple has the most consistent syntax, and is decent all-around for tasks. Mathematica has the most advanced CAS and the worst plotting capabilities.

    Mathematica and Matlab are more expensive than Maple. Mathematica typically runs around about $3k for a full license on all supported platforms. Matlab runs about the same. Maple runs around $1k, for all supported platforms. If you're a student and willing to go with a student license, all of the above products cost around about $150. The student license typically diminishes some of the capabilities of the product or places a time limit on the validity of the license.
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