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Should I invest in mathematica?

  1. Sep 30, 2006 #1
    I am a sophmore physics major. I'm just curious if you all think it will be benificial to have Mathematica ($150 for the student edition) for any and all future homework assignments. I do have access to it at the school labs, but they are usually closed when I like to study, and well.. just wondering if it is worth having my own copy.

    thanks much.:tongue2:
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 30, 2006 #2
    Actually, since I am on the topic, you know what I really need? A CAS (computer algebra system) that can do algebra one step at a time. For example, I am currently working on a problem where I have to take the determinant of a 3x3 matrix where each position in the matrix is a polynomial. It can get hairy. Its one thing to punch in the matrix and see what mathematica says the determinant should be, but how it got there is the real trick.
     
  4. Sep 30, 2006 #3

    chroot

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    I wouldn't bother buying Mathematica until you're sure that Maxima can't do what you need to do for free.

    - Warren
     
  5. Sep 30, 2006 #4

    JasonRox

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    Mathematica is garbarge compared to Maple in my opinion. I wouldn't invest in it.
     
  6. Sep 30, 2006 #5
    silverdiesel, do you have examples of such tools?
     
  7. Sep 30, 2006 #6
    What tools? Not sure what you mean. I have used mathematica at school, if that is what you mean. In regard to the one-step-at-a-time CAS, no. It was just an idea.

    hmm, maybe there is some sort of algebra teaching software that would work... (again, just thinking out loud)
     
  8. Sep 30, 2006 #7
    What advantages does Maple have over Mathematica?
     
  9. Sep 30, 2006 #8

    JasonRox

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    I like the coding that they use much much better.
     
  10. Sep 30, 2006 #9
    I purchased MatLab last year, and I love it. I was thinking about buying Mathematica at first, but after researching I found that most engineers use MatLab in real world situations.

    But I don't know about for a physicist.
     
  11. Oct 1, 2006 #10

    chroot

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    There's a free analogue to MATLAB too, called Octave.

    - Warren
     
  12. Oct 1, 2006 #11
    The coding? Do you mean the syntax of the programming language?
     
  13. Oct 1, 2006 #12
    Matlab is good for numerical computation...but Mathematica is what you turn to when you have an impossible integral to compute, and you want a symbolic answer.
     
  14. Oct 1, 2006 #13
    I went ahead and purchased mathematica yesterday. Good stuff. It was able to confirm the solutions to a couple 3x3 determinants I have been working on (all symbolic, no numbers).
     
  15. Oct 2, 2006 #14

    J77

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    Maple's a better teaching; very user friendly.

    Mathematica's got a steeper learning curve but is faster (and more robust) when mastered.

    Matlab's good for coding test programs in (before optimising in C++ etc.)

    If you can afford it, get the student versions when you can - they get a lot more expensive later on...
     
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