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Mathematica 7

  1. Aug 16, 2009 #1
    Hello, I was just wondering if anyone has used the software Mathematica 7. I heard it's a really good program and with the new functions it looks great, i was just wanted to get some good user feedback from people who definitely know what they're talking about. Thanks!

    P.S. - as a side note, has anyone used the book 'Six Ideas That Shape Physics: C, E, N, Q, R, T' by Thomas A. Moore? I'm using this text for my physics course this fall and haven't heard of it before.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 16, 2009 #2

    Dale

    Staff: Mentor

    I have been using Mathematica since version 2.2, so I am a little biased in favor of Mathematica in general. But yes, I like Mathematica 7 too.
     
  4. Aug 16, 2009 #3
    What do you mainly use it for? And would you say it's worth the $140 or whatever it costs for a freshman in college?
     
  5. Aug 17, 2009 #4
    I use it for all of my analysis, it is incredibly powerful. You should really check into seeing if your college has a deal on the software. A lot of universities can get you a student copy for like $30.
     
  6. Aug 17, 2009 #5

    Dale

    Staff: Mentor

    mg0stisha, do look around and see if you can get a better deal on it, but yes, even at $140 it is well worth it. Even at minimum wage you will save yourself much more than $140 worth of time, particularly over the course of a full degree program.
     
  7. Aug 17, 2009 #6

    CRGreathouse

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    I never bought a copy through college; it wasn't worth the price for me. But then I focused on discrete math were it's not as strong -- it would make calc/analysis courses much easier, I imagine.
     
  8. Aug 17, 2009 #7
    Thanks guys, I found out that the cheapest copy I can get is $45 per semester and that's only for an online download. Otherwise I can get it for $140 as the software version, which I think I'll do. Thanks a ton for the input!
     
  9. Aug 17, 2009 #8

    symbolipoint

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    Why Mathematica, or Mathematica 7, or any of those mathematical educational software programs? Are they necessary for Mathematics courses? These things did not exist when I studied the first three courses of Calculus (the year 1 of undergraduate Calculus and then the Multivarialbe-Intermediate Level Calculus course). We were expected to study, work on exercises, do our own work including show our steps, and actually learn the material. We were absolutely not permitted to use programmable calculators nor graphing calculators on tests or quizzes. When we had graphical representations to show, we drew them and labeled all the necessary parts clearly.

    Now, if I were to spend several months to review the first three semesters of Calculus on my own, use one or two very good textbooks, use pencils and paper to study and do my exercises and maybe rely on a good scientific calculator for calculational efficiency (as we were permitted when I was a student), and then enroll in a college university course which would ordinarily follow "Calculus 3", would I then be at a severe disadvantage, maybe even prerequisite disadvantage for not knowing or having access to Mathematica?
     
  10. Aug 17, 2009 #9

    chroot

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    Many schools offer computer labs where software such as Mathematica is available for use, anytime, for free. mg0stisha, ask your professor if your school has such a facility before buying your own copy.

    symbolipoint, Mathematica is just a tool -- an advanced calculator. You might be able use it to solve your homework for you, but it will never spit out a complete answer, with all steps shown, ready to be written down on paper and turned in. Such abuse of the tool will also never help you pass your tests, which, in most schools, comprise the bulk of the students' grades.

    Instead, the best use of Mathematica, at least for undergrads, is exploration. As a kid, I remember learning a great deal about math by using my graphing calculator. It was like having a full-time tutor that always gave me the right answer to any problem, and I figured out all kinds of things about complex numbers, Taylor series, etc. by simply playing with them on the calculator.

    The end result of education is knowledge, and it doesn't really matter whether that knowledge was obtained solely via pencil and paper, or if newer technology was used as a booster. The irony of your post, symbolipoint, is that PF is itself new educational technology, and I believe it has been tremendously successful.

    The amount of "stuff" that college students must learn in just four short years has increased dramatically even in the decade since I graduated -- there's no way that today's students will be able to absorb everything they need to learn if they are handicapped by being forced to abandon all modern educational technology.

    - Warren
     
  11. Aug 17, 2009 #10
    Symbolipoint,
    I've never used any mathematical or computational software before, and that's why I was inquiring about it. It is in no way essential that i have mathematica or any other math software, i just really love math and want to explore all that it has to offer. I have no problem whatsoever with actually doing problems by myself without the help of a software, and that wouldn't be what I was using for. I also highly doubt that you'd be at any disadvantage in a calculus course if you didn't use this, and I think it would be extremely rare that a calculus 1, 2, or 3 course would require the purchase of this software. If you want to see what it's like, Wolfram Research offers a free 15-day trial! I just got a confirmation email saying my request was granted, and I will surely use this to it's fullest to see if it is all the rage and if it would be a good investment that could be used for my full academic career. Also, I have a feeling that it's powerful analysis tools could be very useful in high level math courses, grad school, and physics or math research. I completely see you point though! There's absolutely nothing wrong with learning material the right way, which I also feel is by lecture/textbook.
     
  12. Aug 17, 2009 #11
    Chroot - thanks for your advice, and I wish the university I'm attending (University of Wisconsin-Whitewater) had either a lab where I could use this or at least a site license so that students could download for free, but unfortunatley they don't. Do you yourself use mathematica or a different computational program?
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2009
  13. Aug 24, 2009 #12

    Hepth

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    I, as a physics Phd student, use mathematica pretty much every day. I:
    solve equations, solve differential equations, plot, simplify equations, simulate processes (like numerical solutions, etc. using programming methods) and other stuff. Its amazing once you learn to use it.

    OH and the best feature in the world : Copy As LaTex!!! Because you can easily type up pretty equations in it, you can copy out LaTex after you have solved something (if writing a paper)

    I've also done most of my homework in grad school in mathematica (mainly stat mech, mechanics and some 2nd semester quantum, mainly for integrals).

    I've used it, matlab and maple, and mathematica I feel is supported better by its help files, as well as easier to learn.
     
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