MatLab vs Mathematica

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  • #1
dRic2
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I know a little bit of MatLab (for example I can solve simple, well conditioned, systems of 1st and 2nd order ODE), but I know nothing about Mathematica. I don't know whether or not start to learn how to code in Mathematica or keep studying MatLab.

For example, for CFD (computational fluid dynamics) kind of problems what do you think is better and why?

Thanks
Ric
 

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  • #2
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Why not look for some videos on YouTube to get an idea of Mathematica’s power? Or look for comparative articles on it?
 
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  • #3
Orodruin
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It depends on what you want to do. Are you looking to solve problems numerically or symbolically?
 
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dRic2
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I read a couple of articles, but I'm not very sure I understood the differences. I think Mathematica has a beautiful graphical interface and you can work with symbolic equations very easily. That's cool. On the other hand, I don't see very much difference when it comes to numerical solutions and since most of the time I will have to work with numerical solutions I don't see a clear reason to switch to Mathematica.

If you think Mathematical is better also for numerical solutions let me know why. Thanks.
 
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Dale
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Personally I think that Mathematica is better symbolically. It does a good job numerically, particularly with arbitrary precision, but seems slow.
 
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dRic2
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It does a good job numerically, particularly with arbitrary precision, but seems slow.
Are you suggesting that here MatLab is better than Mathematica?
 
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Dale
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Are you suggesting that here MatLab is better than Mathematica?
No, I am suggesting it is different. If you need arbitrary precision I would go with Mathematica. If you need speed I would go with Matlab
 
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dRic2
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May I ask which one do you think is better for a student ? I mean, I have a limited amount of time to spend in trying to learn MatLab or Mathematica while studying for my courses and I'd like to choose one. For the next 2 years, as a student, I don't think speed or precision would be issues, so I can't really decide on my "needs". I don't have a lot problems that need to be solved numerically right now, and when I have one usually our professors don't really care about how we solve it
 
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Are you suggesting that here MatLab is better than Mathematica?
Matlab is heavily used by scientific and engineering groups for numerical computing jobs. They are well established with a good customer service rating and a lot of online resources to help new users.
 
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Orodruin
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May I ask which one do you think is better for a student ?
Again, it really dependson what you want to do. Both are useful tools in scientific computing, but they are different. If you were studying to become a chef, would you ask which knife to buy since you only have the time to learn to use one single knife? The answer would then also depend on what you wanted to do. Sure, you could use a bread knife to cut meat, but the result and the process will be worse than if you used a knife designed for the task.

Same thing with Matlab and Mathematica. They are designed to do different things so what you pick should depend on your intentions. You could do some things with Matlab that Mathematica is better for and vice versa, but the process of doing so and the result will suffer more than necessary.
 
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  • #11
dRic2
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Thank you all for the replies. I always thought MatLab was better because the majority of people I know (professors) use it instead of Mathematica. Lately I started to hear more and more about Mathematica from new professors of mine and I started think I was wrong. Since in my university MatLab seems to be more popular I think I'm going to stick with it, but if I have time I will try to learn something about Mathematica too.
 
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Dr Transport
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Matlab is heavily used by scientific and engineering groups for numerical computing jobs. They are well established with a good customer service rating and a lot of online resources to help new users.
Mathematica has much better symbolic capability and a huge learning curve, whereas Matlab is more numerical in nature and its learning curve is much more gentle. As has been mentioned, it has a huge user community which posts everyting, so finding something close to what you need and adapting is it easy.
 
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  • #13
FactChecker
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On the other hand, I don't see very much difference when it comes to numerical solutions and since most of the time I will have to work with numerical solutions I don't see a clear reason to switch to Mathematica.
MATLAB (and Simulink) is the central part of a very extensive set of MathWorks tools for developing, implementing, and testing numerical calculations. That is a major reason that it is so dominant in industries that require code for numerical calculations. Mathematica may have the same capability, but I have never seen any evidence of that and am not very familiar with it.

I know people in the aerospace industry who consider a working knowledge of MATLAB to be a requirement for hiring an employee.

That being said, in the particular application of CFD, the people where I worked used Python a lot. Since CFD is so computationally intensive and Python is relatively slow, I assumed that they used an efficient program to solve the individual problems and used Python as a top-level scripting language to run through a large set of flight conditions and surface positions. I am not aware of any serious use of Mathematica by them in CFD. (But they may have been using it and I may just not have been aware of it.)
 
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