# Matlab/Mathematica/Maple which is better?

1. May 28, 2007

### Weave

Ok, so I have somehow obtained all three of these programs

What I want to know is which is the easiest to learn?

2. May 28, 2007

### Dr Transport

I cannot give any insight into Maple, but of the other two, MatLab has by far the easiest learning curve. I have heard that Mathematica has a learning curve of tangent at nearly $\pi /2$.

3. May 28, 2007

### cosmicstring1

Mathematica is the easiest with its palettes as an "advanced calculator". But if you want to expertise in mathematical or theoretical physics Maple worths studying. If you will be dealing with large matrices or more "engineering" stuff, Matlab must be your choice. In my opinion, Mathematica is in the middle of these two. (I did not try Mathematica 6.0 yet)

4. May 28, 2007

### VietDao29

Well, I haven't tried Matlab yet. Just Maple 10, and Mathematica 5.

Well, Maple is easier to learn. However, I find Maple a little bit CPU usage consuming, Mathematica is way lighter, since it acts like a notepad, with a kernel functioning behind it.

Since my CPU is slow like hell, so I use Mathematica more frequently.

5. May 28, 2007

### Weave

Yah I have heard Mathematica can be super hard to learn, there is this huge manual I have seen before.

I have heard between Mathematica and Maple that Maple is easier to learn so I will perhaps learn that one.

6. Jun 6, 2007

### WMGoBuffs

I prefer Mathematica, because anything you could possibly want to know is in the Help Index. Once you learn how to parse the index (and its examples), you can piece together useful code.

7. Jun 7, 2007

### tacosareveryyum

I grew up on Maple so it is like second nature to me. If you have done any programming then Maple should be very easy to pick up. The same goes for Mathematica.

8. Jun 7, 2007

### Chris Hillman

I have extensively used all three of these, and have taught MATLAB as part of a linear algebra course. I'd probably order them for newbies as MATLAB < Maple < Mathematica. Of course, this depends upon what you want to do with them! In my linear ranking I was thinking of matrix computations (matrices with rational or floating point entries), and since MATLAB specializes in these, it is perhaps not surprising that it is easier to learn if this is what you want to do.

Maple and Mathematica are both extremely powerful symbolic computation systems. As you probably know, both systems have passionate fans and comparisions can be inflammatory. They seem to pass the baton back and forth regarding various aspects of symbolic computation, but most would probably agree that Mathematica has generally stayed ahead in terms of producing beautiful graphics, while Maple is ahead in terms of documentation and perhaps capabibilities related to Groebner basis computations. Mathematica's grammar is undeniably awkward in some respects; most students who have been previously exposed to programming languages such as C will probably find Maple grammar easier to figure out when trouble strikes. Mathematica turns out to have undocumented functions; discovering these can be highly disconcerting since it usually happens in the context of trying to understand some utterly unexpected behaviour!

In case there are any lurkers out there who are interested in computational group theory or computational homological algebra, I'd like to mention two more specialized symbolic computation systems.

First, GAP is an amazingly powerful open source system which often offers state-of-the-art algorithms for computing with finite groups and their actions, rings, or more general sturctures, as well as finite dimensional Lie algebras and so on. No question that the GAP manual is not for the faint of heart, however!

Second, I think Macaulay2 has a lovely and elegant grammar which makes programming a real delight. The programming language in Macaulay2 is "very strongly typed", which is appropriate since it forces you to keep all the levels of structure in mind. To be fair, there are several competitors such as Singular which are probably in wider use, but Macaulay2 is worth learning just to experience its elegance.

Last edited: Jun 7, 2007